As He Squeezes the Palestinians, Trump Is Throwing Out 25 Years of U.S. Policy

As He Squeezes the Palestinians, Trump Is Throwing Out 25 Years of U.S. Policy
A girl walks by a mural of Donald Trump drawn on Israel’s separation barrier Bethlehem, West Bank, March 13, 2018 (Sipa photo by Artur Widak via AP).

On March 24, a bill requiring the U.S. government to cut financial aid to the Palestinian Authority quietly passed into law as part of the omnibus spending bill signed by President Donald Trump. The new law, known as the Taylor Force Act, is the latest in a series of punitive measures taken by Washington against the Palestinians that are casting a shadow over their bilateral relationship and threatening stability in the Middle East.

Ostensibly, the law is directed at a longstanding policy of the Palestinian Authority to provide financial support to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel. The United States and Israel frame this as a reward for terrorism, while the Palestinians see it as means of alleviating the hardship on the families of those resisting Israel’s military occupation.

Regardless, the Taylor Force Act and the hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that it blocks will have real consequences on the ground. And it cannot be separated from other recent measures taken by the Trump administration, such as unilaterally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA—a U.N. body set up in 1949 that provides humanitarian aid and other essential services for 5.5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

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