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article imageUS cuts off funds for the Palestinian Authority security forces

By Ken Hanly     Feb 13, 2020 in Politics
Washington - The US Trump administration has dealt another blow to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA) as it introduces more budget cuts to the group, this time to the PA security forces.
US has long supported the Palestinian Security Services
When the US State Department released the budget request for 2021 missing from the requests was funding for the Palestinian Security Services. This funding has received bipartisan support for the last 27 years. In 2019 the US provided an estimated $35 million to fund the security services.
Since Trump took office the US has steadily cut humanitarian and economic aid to the Palestinians. As a result the Palestinian Authority and other groups such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). have suffered deep financial crises.
Last year, the Congress had rejected the State Dept's 2020 request for $175 million in funds for the Diplomatic Progress Fund. Instead the Congress opted to restore $150 million in Palestinian aid and that had included $75 million in security assistance.
Some funds available if Palestinians accept US peace plan
Even though there are no unconditional or explicit funds for the Palestinian security forces in the budget request, there is a request for $200 million for a Diplomatic Progress Fund, that the US government can use with flexibility to “respond to new opportunities arising from progress in diplomatic and peace efforts around the world…such as progress on a plan for Middle East peace.” Within those funds is $25 million designated towards security assistance in the West Bank. However it is understood that access to those funds is contingent upon the Palestinians accepting the Trump peace plan that has already been categorically rejected by the Palestinians and the PA. It seems that the Palestinians are correct when they claim that the US is using political blackmail to force Palestinians to give in to their demands.
Israel supports the US funding of Palestinian Security Forces
Israel as well as the US have both long supported the funding of the Palestinian Security Services as a means of maintaining stability and order in the occupied West Bank. Israel considers the forces help protect their security interests. Trump's nixing of funds for the Palestinian Security Forces came as a surprise to many. However, it has been reported that Trump rejected a request to continue funding from Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu last November
For years security coordination between the PA and Israel has been an essential part of Israel's security arrangements. Recently, Mahmoud Abbas, PA president, has threatened to break off security coordination if Israel moves ahead with annexation plans.
Israel has been working to make Israel less dependent upon PA Security Forces.
Israel using advanced technology to replace PA security
Diana Buttu, a political analyst based in Ramallah said she was not surprised by the news of the budget cut. Buttu claimed that Israel really did not need the PA any longer for security coordination.
Buttu said: “If you look at the way Israel operates today, a lot of it is being done by their own technological mechanisms. Everything from new IDs with magnetic chips for Palestinians, gates at the entrances to Palestinian areas that be can closed electronically, and facial recognition technology at checkpoints...The occupation is very much operating by remote control, they don’t need the PA any longer."
However Buttu said that the EU and other donor countries will probably step up funding as the forces help provide regional stability and the PA security services are a major employer of Palestinians. However, this may mean less funding for other services such as education and health care. Buttu notes that the PA spends more money on security than it does on education and healthcare combined.
More about US Palestine relations, Palestinian authority, PA security forces
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