(February 11, 2020 / JNS) U.S. funding for Palestinian security forces was excluded in the Trump administration’s budget released on Monday for the 2021 fiscal year—the first time that a U.S. government budget excluded funds for that purpose.
The budget request does consist of $200 million for a “Diplomatic Progress Fund” that could be used to implement the administration’s Mideast peace plan, details of which were released on Jan. 28. And while it includes an “agreement to resume security assistance in the West Bank,” such an arrangement would likely require the Palestinian Authority to accept the plan, which it has already rejected.
Last year, all $60 million in U.S. assistance to P.A. security forces was cut off in accordance with the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, signed into law in October, which provides protections for American victims of international terrorism.
Israel reportedly urged the Trump administration to fix the ATCA to preserve the security assistance.
In the last budget, signed into law in December, $75 million was allocated towards P.A. security assistance.
Other items in the administration’s budget request include the usual $3.3 billion in military assistance for Israel, in accordance with the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding agreed to during the Obama administration; $1.3 billion in economic and security assistance to Jordan; $5 million for supporting Jewish migrants to Israel, including from the former Soviet Union and Africa; and $30 million for Multinational Force and Observers mission in the Sinai Peninsula, which supervises the implementation of the security provisions of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty.
It also includes $62.2 million in economic assistance and $50 million in military assistance for Lebanon.
Moreover, the budget request includes around $85.92 million for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), despite the U.S. State Department acknowledging in its budget request that the international monitoring force “has not been allowed full access to suspected tunnel sites and other suspect areas along the Blue Line as required by its mandate.”
Nonetheless, according to the State Department, “the mission still serves a priority U.S. national security interest by maintaining security and stability between Israel and Lebanon, and assisting the Lebanese government in extending its authority over southern Lebanon. This in turn helps to prevent [Hezbollah] and other militias from being able to launch attacks against Israel.”
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