Washington: Legislative restrictions force USAID to cease financial aid towards Palestinian territories
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) stopped providing emergency relief to Palestinians residing in the West Bank and Gaza on Friday. The Palestinian Authority also approved termination of financial assistance by USAID, even though this development will worsen humanitarian conditions in already impoverished areas. The conclusion of USAID activities in Palestinian territories also infers the cessation of $60 million financial assistance given to Palestinian security forces to maintain regional peace and security in these areas.
The decision came up after new operational restrictions were put on foreign aid recipients under the context of anti-terrorism laws ratified by the U.S. Senate in October 2018. The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) allows U.S. authorities to indict foreign recipients of American relief programmes in domestic courts with charges linked to supporting terrorist activities overseas or participating in other illicit operations. The U.S. Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt argued that the USAID programme consensually stopped its activities in Palestinian Territories on Friday. The Palestinian Authority endorsed cessation of USAID programme in its territories to protect itself from possible indictments that U.S. financial assistance allegedly props up extremist activities against Israeli targets. USAID is one of the top contributors in emergency relief programmes in Palestinian territories. In 2017, the organisation directed more than $268 million on post-conflict rehabilitation and public restoration projects in West Bank and Gaza Strip.