Trump’s Freeze on Palestinian Aid Causes Layoffs at USAID

The White House decision to abandon Palestinian aid is hurting the work of U.S.-funded humanitarian organizations and local companies in the region.

According to a Haaretz, Palestinian officials said that the White House’s funding suspension, which was announced last month, is hurting people on the ground far more than the Palestinian Authority, the governing body that is the target of the freeze.

President Donald Trump’s administration ended Palestinian aid as part of the Taylor Force Act, which requires Palestinian officials to take steps to stop terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, Western and Arab officials told Haaretz that they believe the U.S. implemented the freeze in order to put pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who cut off ties with the White House last December after Trump announced that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

“If they are trying to pressure [Abbas], then this is not the way to do it,” former U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Haaretz. “[Abbas] can live with this freeze.”

Trump’s policy forced the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to roll back their humanitarian efforts in the region. The development agency, which administers U.S. foreign assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, is reportedly preparing to lay off employees and shut down projects.

The Haaretz report on Monday indicates that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority will likely be moved by the U.S.’s funding freeze.

“In Gaza, we have Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and more extremist groups,” said Dave Harden, the former mission head of USAID in the West Bank and Gaza. “The civil society is weak, the business community is weak. One of the only good things we have are the U.S. humanitarian groups. It’s a grave mistake to hurt them.”

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