“Several months ago, President Trump rejected a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow US aid to be transferred to Palestinian security forces and told aides that Netanyahu should pay for it, US officials told me,” Barak Ravid, one of Israel’s most prominent investigative reporters, said in an article published Wednesday night by Axios (Trump told officials that Netanyahu should pay security aid to Palestinians).
As of February 2019, the Trump administration has stopped all US aid to both the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and to NGOs in Gaza. As part of that wholesale cut, the US stopped the payments of more than $60 million annually to the PA security services.
But that last move was initiated by the PA, not the US, because of Ramallah’s fear of lawsuits that could stem from the enactment in February 2019 of the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 (ATCA), which allows American citizens to sue in US courts entities receiving US foreign aid over their complicity in “acts of war.”
So that while the cutting of US aid to corrupt and ineffective groups such as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was, indeed, part of President Trump’s radical policy change concerning the Palestinian Authority, the support for the PA security forces was not.
Nevertheless, Ravid is not wrong in his report, as he himself put it: “According to US officials, the State Department realized around six months ago that $12 million in aid to the Palestinian security forces had not been cut but was also never transferred to the Palestinians.”
Apparently, Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer asked the administration to transfer these funds to the PA security forces, who collaborate with Israeli security in Judea and Samaria – at which point the Americans stated that President Trump’s policy was to cut all funding to the Palestinian Authority, and a change in said policy would have to receive his approval.
According to Ravid, “Trump wasn’t convinced and told his aides: ‘If it is that important to Netanyahu, he should pay the Palestinians $12 million.'”
Needless to say, the held-back funds were never transferred, according to Ravid, which might mean that Netanyahu did pay the PA the money it needed to help its security forces maintain the lifestyle to which they had grown accustomed.