A decision by the Trump Administration to cut 200 million dollars in aid to Palestinians was denounced worldwide on Friday, Aug. 31.
This aid is intended to help fund a variety of programs throughout Gaza and the West Bank, including different programs that are organized by and through the United Nations. Much of this funding goes towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), an agency which helps resettle refugees from Palestine and offers them opportunities to develop the skills needed to live successfully and independently outside of Palestine.
In June, President Trump warned the city of Ramallah to cease a controversial decades old policy of financially compensating Palestinian families who have members who commit terrorist acts against Israel and Israelis and die during the course of such acts. This policy is known as the Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund and has existed since 1964. Officials from the city and Palestine claim that the programs purpose was to act as a welfare program to aid the families of combatants who work to oppose Israel and died as a part of their struggle against the nation the Palestinian Authority opposes.
The decision to cut aid to Palestinians was a decision consistent with a law that was passed in March of 2018. This law is named the Taylor Force Act, after a graduate student named Taylor Force was murdered while in Israel by a Palestinian who also died during the course of the violent act of terrorism. Since the Palestinian died during the attack, his family was paid a monthly stipend which totals an amount several times higher what many Palestinians make in a month.
The people behind the Palestinian Authority’s Martyrs Fund and those who continue to support it have been accused of inciting violence against the people of Israel by offering rewards to people who go out and commit such acts as well as protecting their families through financial means if they should die while in combat against Israel.
Another reason for the cutting of funds was the continued control of Gaza by Hamas, who State Department officials say constitute serious “challenges” for organizations and countries that want to provide aid to the area since funds sent to the local government might be used to supply terrorists and aid the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel rather than for their intended purposes.
The Trump administration’s team to build peace in the Middle East views Hamas’ continued control of Gaza as one of the critical issues that inhibits the possibility of peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinian authorities viewed this as another move with which the government of the United States is opposing the possibility of a two-state solution and siding more obviously with Israel. This comes in the wake of the decision by President Trump to move the embassy of the United States in Israel to Jerusalem, a move which led to violent reactions and clashes throughout the city when it was first announced.
Even after both the State Department and other high government officials confirmed the cuts to journalists, former diplomats from the United States, Palestinians, and other international representatives are working to fight the cut.