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Adding Insult to Injury: Trump Again Disgraces Palestinians

posted on: Aug 29, 2018

By: Alena Khan/Arab America Contributing Writer

Throughout Trump’s presidency, there have been major setbacks when it comes to US-Palestine relations, a major one was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferring the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Now there have been cuts in funding and set limitations on Palestinian refugees. When will it stop? Trump has repeatedly mentioned some “deal of the century” that will come out of all this, but from the looks of it, there’s anything but a fair deal going on here. 

Recently, the Trump administration has canceled more than $200 million in humanitarian aid with accusations of Washington “weaponizing” humanitarian assistance, using it as a “tool to coerce political concessions.” The cut of $200 million is supposedly part of a plan to force Palestinian leadership to go back to negotiating with Israel. All while the Trump administration works on their so-called “deal of the century,” also known as the very overdue peace proposal. 

Several pro-Palestine and civil rights groups have voiced their concerns over such a major change in the US-Palestine relations. Especially officials in the Gaza Strip have called out the US on multiple occasions for its support to Israel, saying specifically that Washington has “long lost its regional credibility.” 

Rep. Barbara Lee, Congresswoman from California’s 13th District had some things to say after the Trump administration’s decision went public:

Hanan Ashrawi, executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) accused Trump and his administration of using “cheap blackmail as a political tool.” she continues, “The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion.”

The US had originally planned to give Palestinians $251 million for “good governance, health, education and funding for civil society: in the 2018 budget year. Even with this large budget cut, the US continues to give Israel annual military aid of about $3 billion and will continue to increase each year.

US-Palestinian relations already started to decline when Trump had announced earlier this year the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Now with this major cut of $200 million in humanitarian aid, things can only get worse— and they have. 

In addition, the Trump administration is on track to announce another change, this time in regards to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The primary agency responsible for “assisting Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the Middle East” is about to experience some issues as the Trump administration plans to freeze UNRWA funding in the West Bank. 

Reports say that beginning of September the administration will cap the number of Palestinian refugees at about half a million which is approximately a tenth of the UN’s number. The Trump administration will not only freeze funding but also not accept the UNRWA’s definition of a Palestinian refugee, stating that the refugee status is “passed from one generation to the next.” Jared Kushner has also made several remarks pressuring Jordan to take away refugee status of the 2 million Palestinians that currently reside in the country. This refusal to accept the UNRWA’s definition will change everything about how the system works. 

The US is the UNRWA’s largest donor, but what does that even matter when they are the ones stripping away everything the agency is good for? According to UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl, currently, the UNRWA only has enough funding to run until the end of September. He states that they would need “a further $217 million to ensure that our schools not only open but can be run until the end of the year.”

These recent and very controversial decisions against Palestine come days after Trump’s statement referring to some “deal of the century” as mentioned earlier. Specifically, Trump said that Palestinians will “get something very good.” But by the looks of it, nothing good is coming out of this. Trump continuously acts against Palestine and gets away with it, because to him and his administration it’s easy and comes with few consequences. This is just another one of the Trump administrations tactics, executing yet another cruel policy targeting men, women, and children of another country in efforts to impoverish and weaken them. How much more will they take away from Palestinians until they’ve left them with nothing?