White House ‘plans to boost aid to PA — while cutting it everywhere else’
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White House ‘plans to boost aid to PA — while cutting it everywhere else’

Budget proposal obtained by Foreign Policy points to across-the-board cuts to foreign assistance, as Palestinians see 5% increase

US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
US President Donald Trump speaks at a press conference in the Rose Garden at the White House on April 5, 2017. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

The White House is looking to significantly reduce its foreign aid programs around the world, but plans to increase assistance to the Palestinian Authority, according to documents obtained by Foreign Policy magazine.

An internally circulated budget proposal for 2018 would see deep cuts in assistance to developing countries. It also seeks to merge the USAID program into the State Department, as part of its scaling back of aid programs.

But while many initiatives could see their funds reduced by dozens of percentage points — and even nixed entirely — aid to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would see an increase of 4.6 percent, from $205 million in 2017 to $215 million in 2018.

Meanwhile the document proposes cuts to health funding in 41 countries, while the Bureau for Food Security could lose around 70 percent of its funds. It would also cut almost $1 billion to efforts to battle climate change. Development assistance to 77 countries would be cut entirely, with the money instead diverted to the economic support fund, a program closely tied to US political and strategic objectives, according to FP.

The proposed budget is likely to have a difficult time in Congress, where many conservative legislators oppose cuts to foreign aid.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends the summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends the summit of the Arab League at the Dead Sea, Jordan, Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (AP Photo/ Raad Adayleh)

Senior Palestinian officials traveled to Washington Sunday to prepare for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to the White House next week for his first meeting with US President Donald Trump.

PLO Secretary General and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat will lead the delegation in a series of high-level meeting with administration officials, including Trump’s son-in-law adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt.

Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj and Abbas’s senior economic adviser, Muhammed Mustasfa, will also be part of the delegation.

Trump is set to host Abbas at the White House on May 3 for talks on efforts to revive the Middle East peace process, the White House said last week.

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