ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 143

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USAID chief: ‘No decisions made’ on cutting Palestinian aid

Administrator says process ‘ongoing’ hours after Trump warns funding for Palestinians– 40% of which is funneled through USAID projects — is on the chopping block

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

File: US special envoy Jason Greenblatt (C) shakes hands with Palestinian Water Authority chairman Mazen Ghunaim during the launch of a project to improve access to wastewater treatment and water for Palestinian farmers, on October 15, 2017, in the city of Jericho, in the West Bank. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)
File: US special envoy Jason Greenblatt (C) shakes hands with Palestinian Water Authority chairman Mazen Ghunaim during the launch of a project to improve access to wastewater treatment and water for Palestinian farmers, on October 15, 2017, in the city of Jericho, in the West Bank. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh)

DAVOS, Switzerland — The administrator of the US Agency for International Development said Friday that the Trump administration had not yet made decisions regarding cuts in humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“This process is ongoing, and no funding decisions have been made. As the President said, the United States expects the Palestinian leadership to work with us,” USAID’s Mark Green told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“While I have not spoken directly to the President about this issue, my teams at USAID remains in close consultation with the White House and Department of State on this issue,” he said.

Earlier, Green said the Trump administration had not consulted with his office regarding plans to cut the funding to the Palestinians, but later clarified to The Times of Israel that he had “misspoken.”

USAID Administrator Mark Green (Screen capture/YouTube)

Less than 24 hours earlier, US President Donald Trump suggested that Washington’s aid to the Palestinians — over 40% of which goes toward USAID projects — was on the chopping block following the angry reaction from Ramallah to his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.

“When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands, that money is on the table,” Trump told reporters during a photo-op prior to his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The United States is by far the largest financial aid donor to the Palestinians, and USAID funds made up $290 of the over $700 million sent to Ramallah in 2016.

According to the US Consulate in Jerusalem’s website, the United States has been the largest donor of aid to the Palestinians since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1994. This aid has averaged around $600 million annually in recent years, and can be roughly divided into three categories.

The first is USAID, the conduit by which the State Department provides aid to countries across the world. The second is the economic support for law and order in the Palestinian Authority. The third is the US support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA.

The US has already said it is withholding two payments to UNWRA totaling some $100 million.

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