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US aid to Palestine hits 10-year low under Trump

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: The U.S. support for the Palestinian Authority during the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has decreased to its lowest level in the last decade.

Tensions, already high since the Dec. 6 U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, mounted again after the Trump targeted the Palestinian Authority on the first day of the new year.

Trump threatened Tuesday to cut aid to Palestine after the latter’s decision to stop participating in peace negotiations due to the U.S. president’s steps in favor of Israel.

Palestinian President Mah-moud Abbas said the move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel effectively disqualified Washington from serving as an effective intermediary in peace talks.

Trump’s statement regarding the U.S. aid to Palestine — found by many to be too little given the U.S. GDP of nearly $18.5 trillion — has not only drawn criticism on the grounds that it amounted to “political blackmailing”, but also raised questions on how much the U.S. has actually been donating to Palestine.

According to the data obtained by an Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondent from the U.S. Foreign Ministry and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a total of around $8 billion were provided to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the last 23 years.

Israel, however, was provided with the same amount in only two years ($3.1 billion in 2016 and $4.9 billion in 2017), with the total financial aid to the country reaching $130 billion since 1949.

In addition, former President Barack Obama had signed an agreement in Sept. 2016 to provide Israel with an additional $38 billion in military aid in between 2019 and 2028.

-Fluctuating amounts

The U.S. aid to Palestine, precisely a sixteenth of the aid to Israel as of now, was much lower in the years 1994-2000 with $50 to 60 million per year.

The amount of the aid has considerably increased since the 2000s, but has been fluctuating in the last ten years.

In 2008, for example, the Palestinian Authority received a total of $512 million in aid as per the U.S. budget signed by former President George W. Bush. This amount was doubled in 2009 under Obama’s presidency, exceeding the threshold of $1 billion for the first time. In 2010, the aid was reduced to $687 million and kept falling further down to $461 million in 2011 and $472 million in 2012.

Washington increased the aid to $1 billion again in 2013 and cut it back down to $497 million in 2014. In 2015, it was $557 million and in 2016 it was $457 million.

-32 percent fall under Trump’s presidency

Within the first year of Trump’s presidency, the aid to Palestine has been reduced to $285 million, a 32 percent drop from 2016, representing the lowest figure in the last decade.

Trump’s freezing of $221 million in aid to Palestine, which had been released by Obama just hours before leaving his post on Jan. 20, 2017, contributed to this sharp decline. In short, the Trump administration had already started cutting the U.S. aid to Palestine long before the threats the president hurled on Twitter.

-Trump’s online threats

“We pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump complained on Twitter on Monday.

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.

We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.

But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

 

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