Americans for Peace Now (APN) condemns the decision by the Trump administration to slash $200 million in aid appropriated by Congress for humanitarian projects in the West Bank and Gaza. According to a leaked report, this action will shortly be followed by a Trump administration announcement that it will cut support for programs of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the West Bank, ask Israel to consider restricting UNRWA's activities there, and dramatically reduce the number of Palestinians the United States recognizes as refugees.
Of most immediate concern is the humanitarian impact of these actions on Palestinians who depend on programs administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNRWA. Struggling financially under earlier cuts by the United States, previously its largest donor, UNRWA has warned that it does not currently have funds to operate schools through the end of 2018. Humanitarian programs through UNRWA and USAID also provide health care and vaccinations, food assistance, water treatment, infrastructure development, and support for good governance and conflict prevention.
These latest moves are likely to severely impact Israel, as well. Deepening Gaza's profound economic crisis may contribute to further radicalization among Palestinians there and impoverishing Palestinians in the West Bank will likely disrupt security and stability there. Weakening the Palestinian Authority and possibly instigating its collapse would leave a vacuum for Hamas and elements which are even more radical, and force Israel, which remains the occupying power, to pick up the pieces.
The Trump administration claims it is acting in the interests of Israel and peace. Nothing could be further from the truth. Punishing and humiliating the Palestinians will not bring them to the negotiating table or persuade them to accept a deal which fails to address the legitimate national interests of the Palestinian people. A weakened, humiliated, impoverished Palestinian neighbor across the Green Line is not in Israel's interest either.
Trump's latest anti-Palestinian moves are likely to provoke a multidimensional crisis – humanitarian, political, economic, and security – of Washington's own making.