USAID sign in Hevron
USAID sign in Hevron Reuters

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has ceased all assistance to Palestinian Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, a US official said on Friday, according to Reuters.

The halt was requested by the Palestinian Authority and is linked to the January 31 deadline set by the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), new US legislation under which foreign aid recipients would be more exposed to anti-terrorism lawsuits.

The move also sees the end of about $60 million in US aid for the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces.

“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 US official told Reuters on Friday.

“All USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased.”

It was unclear how long the cessation would last. The official said no steps were currently being taken to close the USAID mission in areas assigned to the PA, and no decision had been made about future staffing at the USAID mission in the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

On Thursday, PLO senior official Saeb Erekat confirmed that US aid to the PA security services will come to an end as of Friday at the PA’s request.

“We do not want to receive any money if it will cause us to appear before the courts,” he said, according to the official PA Wafa news agency.

“We are not in need of this [US] assistance… We simply say, Jerusalem is not for sale,” added Erekat.

USAID is the main agency administering US foreign assistance to the PA. According to its website, the agency spent $268 million on public projects in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as well as Palestinian private sector debt repayment in 2017, but there were significant cuts to all new funding through the end of June 2018.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said, according to Reuters, “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.”

Since 2018, the US has cut aid to the Palestinian Authority, both by congressional action (including passage of the Taylor Force Act) and changes in policy by the Trump administration.

Trump's administration decided several months ago to completely halt its funding for the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” (UNRWA), which had previously stood at around $350 million a year.

Later, it announced it would cut $25 million more in direct aid to six hospitals that primarily serve Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem.

In September, Washington cut aid to the PA for programs supporting conflict resolution with Israelis.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)