News Roundup for August 29, 2018

August 29, 2018

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J Street in the News

For Palestinians, Trump is all pain and no peace, Washington Post

“‘Jared Kushner’s attempt to ‘disrupt’ UNRWA by slashing their funding — against the recommendations of the Pentagon, State Department and US intelligence community — is both callous and dangerous,’ said Dylan Williams of J Street, a liberal pro-Israel group in Washington, in a statement earlier this month. ‘These cuts have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and contributed to instability that, according to Israel’s generals, threatens Israeli security. This is just the latest evidence that the Trump administration is more interested in punitive action against Palestinians than in the serious pursuit of peace.’”

Palestinian aid critics wary of Trump cuts, Al-Monitor

“Dylan Williams, the senior vice president of government affairs for J Street, a lobbying group supportive of a two-state solution, said the cuts would have a ‘devastating impact on innocent women, children and families” as they include cuts to programs providing food assistance, clinical breast treatment and youth engagement intended to stem radicalization’….J Street’s Williams added that the administration is ‘undermining the will of Congress’ by unilaterally cutting aid without justifying its decision.”


Top News and Analysis

U.S. to End All Funding to U.N. Agency That Aids Palestinian Refugees, Foreign Policy

Colum Lynch reports, “Months after scaling back financial support for the United Nations agency that provides humanitarian aid to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees, the Trump administration has decided to end funding altogether, several sources told Foreign Policy, in a decision that analysts said would cause more hardship and possibly unrest in Gaza, the West Bank, and other parts of the Middle East. The decision was made at a meeting earlier this month between President Donald Trump’s advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to the sources. The administration has informed key regional governments in recent weeks of its plan. The United States had been providing the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, some $350 million a year—more than any other country. The sum amounted to more than a quarter of the agency’s $1.2 billion annual budget.”

Israeli Court: A West Bank Outpost Can Be Legalized if Land Was Seized in Good Faith, Haaretz

Yotam Berger reports, “The Jerusalem District Court ruled on Tuesday that the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Kramim in the West Bank can be legalized, even though part of the land on which it is built is not state-owned land and Palestinians have claimed ownership. In a precedent-setting ruling, Judge Arnon Darel accepted the legal claim of the residents, based on the ‘market overt concept’ of property ownership, in which transactions conducted in good faith under certain conditions are considered valid – even if they have certain legal faults, such as in the case of the sale of stolen goods. The declaratory judgment states that the residents of Mitzpeh Kramim are the legal owners of the land and that the Israeli military’s Civil Administration in the West Bank cannot revoke the agreement granting the residents rights to the land, and the Palestinians are not entitled to remove them from their homes.”



US calls Middle Eastern nations to step up Palestinian aid, Associated Press

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is calling on Middle Eastern nations to increase aid to Palestinian refugees. The Trump administration slashed funding for the U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees earlier this year.

Defending $200m. funding cut, US says ‘no value to taxpayer’ in Palestinian aid, Times of Israel

“Aid money to the Palestinian Authority “does not provide value to the US taxpayer,” a State Department spokesperson said Tuesday, days after the White House announced it would slash more than $200 million to Ramallah.

Gaza children open school year amid major budget UN crunch, Associated Press

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children are starting their school year in the Gaza Strip amid a major budget crunch for the United Nations agency that funds many of the schools. The new year opened Wednesday as the U.N. refugee agency, or UNRWA, warns its available funds will dry up by the end of September.

U.S. envoy Haley questions Palestinian refugee numbers, Reuters

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Tuesday appeared to question the world body’s count of Palestinian refugees, the latest in a series of steps by the Trump administration challenging how relief aid is delivered to the Palestinians.

Abbas backs demilitarized Palestinian state, says funds better spent on schools, Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday said he believed a future Palestinian state should be demilitarized, offering rare backing for a key Israeli demand in any peace deal.


Opinion and Analysis

Trump treatment of the Palestinians isn’t just cruel. It’s dangerous, Forward

Dalia Hatuqa writes, “Just like the Jerusalem move, the attempt to shut down UNRWA will only serve to fuel enmity between Palestinians and Americans, and embolden Israel to build more settlements and entrench its occupation with impunity. Every party involved has benefited from having UNRWA around to assume responsibility for the welfare of hundreds of thousands, so who or what exactly will be responsible for these people when UNRWA ceases to exist without a peace agreement? What serious, real tangible effort has been made to find a solution to their plight? The UN agency cannot be blamed for the US’s dishonesty as an interlocutor and for the lack of progress in bringing about even a semblance of a just peace agreement all the while it continues to provide education and health services to hundreds of thousands of refugees waiting for a solution to their plight.”

How Israel Outsourced the Occupation to Others, Haaretz

David Rosenberg writes, “Unfortunately, the Trump administration isn’t moved by [long-term] concerns about the deleterious impact of Palestinian aid. It just wants to stop paying the bills without any plan for what will fill the vacuum. The cut announced this week and the threat of more seem to be motivated by a crude negotiating strategy and pleasing his pro–Israel political base at home. Maybe the Kushner peace plan will square the circle, but I’m willing to bet it will just leave a lot of wreckage.”

New group forming to alleviate poverty in Palestinian territories, Al-Monitor

Aziza Nofal writes, “The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has established an investment fund aimed at curbing Palestinian poverty, the bank’s governor in Palestine announced this month. The fund will help finance the Palestinian People’s Economic Empowerment Institution. The Palestinian government has given instructions to the Ministry of Social Development to prepare to launch the institution in mid-2019. The institution will battle poverty in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, on the basis of the 2017-2022 National Policy Agenda launched on Feb. 22, 2017. Its ultimate goal is to help the Palestinian Authority (PA) wipe out poverty by 2030, in line with a United Nations plan launched in August 2015.”