The Trump administration has decided to roll back funding from peace-building efforts between Israel and Palestine, according to a report published by The New York Times. It was considered a final source of aid for the civilians living under the Israel’s apartheid regime.
The move seems a natural addition to a string of tactics from the U.S. government aimed at coaxing the Palestinian authorities into a peace agreement they have serious opposition to.
The latest decision will affect a number of peace-building schemes and stakeholders. The programs that will no longer run include an interfaith program, a program for children with disabilities, a project involving Palestinian and Israeli almond farmers, environmental activists and young entrepreneurs.
Recently, the United States also decided to cut more than $200 million in funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that provides assistance to at least 5 million Palestinian refugees.
The country has also decided to cut aid of $25 million to hospitals in Jerusalem treating Palestinian patients.
This decision seems especially cruel since Palestine has been barred from receiving medicines due to embargos and Israel has crippled the remaining medical infrastructure in Palestine.
It is important to note that even as the Trump administration ends its funding for many projects, it continues to finance Palestinian security forces that work with Israel to ensure peace in the occupied West Bank.
Commenting on the peace cuts, U.S. peace negotiator Jason D. Greenblatt tweeted the following, making clear that the U.S. will not resume humanitarian aid until the Palestinian authorities stop condemning the peace treaty the administration wanted to broker.
I continue to believe in the importance of building relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly kids. But...— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) September 14, 2018
Relations between the U.S. and Palestine, although not always cordial, soured even further when the Trump administration decided to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a territory Palestine also has claims over.
The week the embassy was shifted and Ivanka Trump partied with Israeli officials, more than 50 Palestinian protestors were killed by Israeli authorities. This month, U.S. also closed the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington, D.C.
In response to the funding cuts, Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said the U.S. government was using "sanctions and blackmail to make our people surrender" and that "clearly this administration has nothing to do with peace and making peace."
Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, who had earlier accused the Trump administration of engaging in a series of “provocative” acts instead of working on a robust peace deal, also condemned the aid cuts.
"Congress wrote this program in a bi-partisan manner to bring together Israelis and Palestinians," Leahy told NPR. "What possible good can come from a policy that drives these people further apart? This is no way to build the trust and confidence needed for real peace in the Middle East."
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque