February 1 ushered in an end to some US$60 million in U.S. aid to Palestinian security forces following legislation - which would leave foreign aid recipients vulnerable to anti-terrorism lawsuits - coming into effect on January 31.
UN Cuts Palestine Food Aid After U.S. Reduced Funding
“At the request of the Palestinian Authority, we have wound down certain projects and programs funded with assistance under the authorities specified in ATCA (Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act) in the West Bank and Gaza, a U.S. official told Reuters Friday.
“All USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased.”
“The suspension of aid to our people, which included critical sectors such as health and education, will have a negative impact on all, create a negative atmosphere, and increase instability,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said.
Last year, Washington cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Palestinians; the USAID is the main agency administering U.S. foreign assistance in the Palestinian territories.
Despite the cuts, officials have insisted that no concrete steps are currently being taken to shutter the USAID mission in the Palestinian territories.
The controversial ATCA edict gives United States citizens liberties to bring legal action against any foreign aid recipient that have been deemed complicit in “acts of war,” in U.S. court.
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan chimed in to condemn the stopping of aid to the region, citing "politicized money." In January, the World Food Programme had also cut food aid to about 190,000 Palestinians due to a shortage of funds.
“Palestinians are too smart to continue to live as victims and recipients of foreign aid. Until a political solution is found (maybe it will be our peace plan?), the PA (Palestinian Authority) must focus on helping Palestinians lead better lives,” Rudeineh explained, adding that a statement from U.S. official is misleading and disingenuous regarding the discontinuation of aid.
Diplomatic sources claim that Palestine, the United States and Israeli officials are currently working on a solution to support the security forces.
"We will find a solution to these things. I won't get into details," Israeli security cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz told Israel Radio Thursday.