Photo Credit: USAID Indonesia via Flickr
USAID disaster response

The former head of the PA and Gaza Mission for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Dave Harden on Thursday told the Jerusalem Post that the Trump administration had decided to eliminate all funding to Gaza and PA Arabs come Jan. 31.

The State Dept. issued a statement last year saying that on instructions from President Trump, the US would direct elsewhere more than $200 million initially planned for programs in the PA and the Gaza Strip.

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Harden, who was appointed by the Bush administration, was resentful of the move, which he said “demonstrates again a lack of nuance, sophistication, and appreciation for the complexity of the situation.”

“Who suffers when USAID leaves schools and water systems unfinished?” he asked, and answered, “Palestinians, of course, but also Israelis and Americans. The administration just gave Hamas more running room.”

Harden warned that was “another example of the end of the two state solution.”

The new move is in keeping with the October, 2018 Anti Terrorism Clarification Act, which amended title 18, United States Code, to clarify the meaning of the terms “act of war” and “blocked asset.” The former states that actions against terror groups would not be considered an act of war; the latter empowers the US government to use terror groups’ assents to pay judgements in US courts against these groups.

The cut in aid was apparently triggered by the fact that both the PLO and Hamas pay out salaries to terrorists in Israeli security prisons and to their families.

Harden tweeted in December: “This is another example of the Administration vacating political space, putting at grave risk of any hope for stability, and ceding influence to our adversaries.”

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro tweeted on Thursday: “If accurate, an unbelievably short-sighted move. It cuts off programs that have improved econ &security conditions for Pals & Israelis. It breaks up a highly experienced professional team. And we’ll just have to rebuild the mission all over again in the next Admin, at great cost.”

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.