New law can slash US funding to Palestine Authority

President Donald Trump signed a new law endangering US assistance to Palestine Authority Security forces 

Background

The Palestinian Authority (PA) was formed in 1994 as a consequence of 1993 Oslo Accord. It was designated to have exclusive control over both security related and civilian issues in Palestinian Urban Areas. 

Majority of aid to the Palestinian Authority comes from the United States and European Union. Russia, United Nations, various Arab Nations and organizations funds this self-governing body. Since 2005, US State Department has provided direct financial and personnel assistance to the body when they established the office of United States Security Coordinator (USSC) for Israel and Palestine territories through their Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. 

Analysis 

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the bi partisan Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 into law which raises the likelihood that America will end its financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) security forces. 

The law gives American courts the jurisdiction to seize assets from any entity that receives foreign assistance from the U.S. government. In the future if the PA receives aid for security assistance from the U.S., American citizens could sue PA for its support of terrorism – and lead it to bankruptcy thus providing protections for American victims of international terrorism. The new law amends title 18, United States Code, the main criminal code of the federal government of the United States, which deals with federal crimes and criminal procedure. 

Over the past year, the Trump administration has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from various aid programs to the Palestinians. The only area, however, which the administration didn’t cut funding from, is security assistance because The Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank work in coordination with the Israeli military to thwart terror attacks and arrest Hamas activists.

The law risks the continued cooperation between the Palestinian  security forces and American security and intelligence agencies. The security ties had allowed for the officials to have bilateral meetings. Closer relations with United States also helped increase level of coordination with Israelis.. Senior Israeli military officials have stated that this coordination saved many Israeli lives.Until

Until last year, the US court system did not have jurisdiction over Palestinian Authority because it is a foreign entity. The new law would change that situation, and allow U.S. courts to deal with such lawsuits in the future.

From next year, the PA will face a dilemma: either it will stop receiving any assistance from the U.S., something that will cause damage to its security forces which rely on American support; or it will continue to receive such support, and open itself to the risk of massive lawsuits that make it go bankrupt.

In January of 2018, the United States  made drastic cuts to its contribution to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA. Relations between the US administration and the Palestinian Authority took a nosedive after Trump announced the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

On 23 March 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which will cut about a third of US foreign aid payments to the PA, until the PA ceases making payment of stipends to terrorists and their surviving families. 

In August, The Trump administration decided to withhold up to $200 million in relief aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza and West Bank suggesting those tax-payer funds no longer served American interests. 

The most recent cut was on Sept. 14, when the administration halted $10 million in funding for programs designed to promote goodwill between young Palestinians and Israelis. 

Counterpoint

Lara Friedman, president of the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, warned last week that the new law “will fundamentally undercut U.S. foreign aid worldwide.” Friedman explained that even though the legislation was specifically drawn up to hurt the PA, it could lead to massive lawsuits against any other entity or country that receives U.S. foreign assistance. “This will be a huge risk for a range of U.S. allies and partners who receive aid,” she wrote, specifically pointing to Jordan and Egypt, two countries that have peace agreements with Israel and receive significant amounts of aid from the U.S. government.

Assessment

Our assessment is that Trump administration had promised to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as they continued to reward the families of alleged terrorists and these steps are being taken.