Palestinians turn down US funding over litigation fears


(JTA) — The U.S. Agency for International Development has ceased all assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, a U.S. official said.

The end of funding by USAID, which was announced on Friday, marks a new low point in the Palestinian Authority’s deteriorating relationship with the Trump administration. It may also affect the Palestinian Authority’s ability to curb extremist activity.

The decision was linked to a Jan. 31 deadline set by new U.S. legislation under which foreign aid recipients would be more exposed to anti-terrorism lawsuits, Reuters reported.

In 2017, USAID transferred $268 million in aid to the Palestinians and another $60 million for Palestinian security forces.

Congress’ Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, or ATCA, empowers Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in U.S. courts over alleged complicity in “acts of war.”

The Palestinian Authority declined further U.S. funding over worries about its potential legal exposure. Israel has accused Palestinian Authority officials, including its president Mahmoud Abbas, of inciting hatred and of being responsible for terrorist attacks. The Palestinian Authority denies this.

“At the request of the Palestinian Authority, we have wound down certain projects and programs funded with assistance under the authorities specified in ATCA in the West Bank and Gaza,” a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “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.”

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