Israel Policy Forum is deeply troubled by the news that USAID will be terminating its West Bank and Gaza operations by early 2019. These latest developments, the natural conclusion of the Trump administration’s reckless and needlessly punitive policy of withdrawing over $200 million in funding for USAID projects in the Palestinian Territories, are disturbing but unfortunately not surprising. The administration’s approach targets the most vulnerable members of Palestinian society, discourages normalization and people-to-people exchanges with Israelis, and offers a convenient address for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to direct grievances about the standard of living in the Palestinian Territories and the political status quo. Since the White House first adopted this policy over the summer, it has accomplished nothing to further President Trump’s stated goal of bringing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Now, with the imminent cessation of USAID activities in the West Bank and Gaza, the impact of the United States government’s ill-conceived decision will be more immediately felt, with serious consequences for both the Palestinians and for Israeli security.

We continue to urge American policymakers to reconsider this misguided course of action. Moreover, we encourage efforts to offset some of the negative ramifications of the USAID shutdown in the West Bank and Gaza with new legislation, namely the Palestinian Partnership Fund Act, which has received bipartisan support in both houses of Congress.