The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced that half of its West Bank and Gaza employees will be let go over the next few weeks, and that operations will completely cease by early 2019, according to Haaretz.
The humanitarian agency has been a longstanding presence in the region for nearly 25 years.
The Trump State Department notified USAID last week that they would need to present a list of 60 percent of its employees to be dismissed immediately – with a full shutdown to ensue shortly thereafter.
The U.S. federal government agency handles civilian assistance to various countries around the world. The USAID chapter in the West Bank and Gaza began operating in 1994, focusing mainly on economic issues including water, infrastructure, education and health. USAID has invested about $5.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza in the construction of roads, schools, clinics and community centers. –Haaretz
The shutdown is thought to be linked to President Trump’s funding freeze for various Palestinian relief organizations, as dozens of USAID projects in the West Bank and Gaza were suspended – even those which were partially completed.
In the current budgetary year, the United States was projected to have transferred a total of $250 million in aid to various Palestinian organizations. $35 million of which was supposed to be allocated to the Palestinian Authority security forces and $215 million to economic development, humanitarian assistance and coexistence projects, some through USAID. Last August, the United States announced that the money would be diverted to matters were deemed higher priority to U.S. interests. –Haaretz
Meanwhile, approximately 180 employees operating out of the US Embassy in Israel have yet to receive budgeting for their 2018 and 2019 operations – while leftover funds have been diverted from projects to paying salaries and maintaining the organization. US Ambassador David Friedman has given USAID the cold shoulder over the past few months, according to Haaretz, citing officials involved in the matter, adding that Friedman has not held meetings with USAID officials on various projects.
In March, Fox News reported that USAID gave nearly $15 million to George Soros’