Israel quietly lobbying to sustain Palestinian security funding in the West Bank

It comes after all US aid for the Palestinian Authority was ended last week


Israeli and Palestinian officials say their security coordination in the West Bank will be unaffected despite the US decision to end all aid — including security assistance — to the Palestinian Authority.  

But concerns remain that without American funds, the Palestinian security forces will prove less effective: they are currently working with Israel to block Hamas and other Palestinian groups from expanding its operations in the West Bank. 

The Trump administration had already cut back most American aid to the Palestinian Authority for civilian infrastructure and welfare programmes, which had been sent through the USAID agency and United Nations organisations, over the course of 2018.  

However, the $61 million (£46.8 million) of funding supplies to the Palestinian security apparatus, which boosted coordination with the Israeli security establishment, was slated to continue. 

But legislation passed last year under the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) would make the Palestinian Authority liable to massive lawsuits in the US for the payments it makes to prisoners and their families who were jailed in Israel for terror charges if it continued to accept the aid. 

The PA has announced that it will not stop paying the so-called “Martyrs' Fund” payments and has therefore relinquished all US aid from January 31, when ATCA came in to affect.  

While the legislation was passed by the Senate largely as a result of lobbying by pro-Israel groups, Israeli diplomats have been discreetly trying to find ways to work around ATCA in order to maintain the funding of the Palestinian security apparatus. 

Without the money, they warned, there would be less incentive to work together and less resources with which to do so. For now however, the PA itself does not seem about to suspend the coordination.  

Following a letter sent in December by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, in which the PA notified the US that it would not accept any further funds due to ATCA, the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s Secretary General announced that it would have no effect on security operations. 

He did not specify the security coordination, but officials on both sides have acknowledged that while there would be an impact on military training and equipment, coordination with Israel would continue.  

“The Palestinian Authority doesn’t coordinate its security with Israel because they want to do us any favours,” one Israeli military official said.

“It’s in [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas and Fatah’s interest to work with us because we share an interest in keeping Hamas out of the West Bank. Abbas knows that without coordination and assistance from Israel, he could lose control to Hamas, just as Fatah did in Gaza. 

“The lack of US assistance hampers the joint efforts, but it won’t end coordination.”  

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