Trump budget increases US foreign aid to Palestinians

Trump’s 2018 budget not only proposes an increase in economic aid to Palestinians, but also to several countries in the Middle East including Iraq, Syria and Libya.

Despite proposing cuts in foreign aid to countless countries and regions worldwide, US President Donald Trump’s budget for 2018 increases financial support to Palestinians not only in Judea and Samaria, but in Gaza, according to a report in Foreign Policy magazine.

The report referenced a fifteen page internal budget US State Department document. According to the document, Palestinians would receive $215 million, an increase of 4.6% in foreign aid, from the State Department’s Economic Support Fund (ESF).

The ESF “promotes the economic and political foreign policy interests of the United States by providing assistance to allies and countries in transition to democracy, supporting the Middle East peace negotiations, and financing economic stabilization programs, frequently in a multi-donor context,” according to the report.

Trump’s proposed budget would make significant cuts to several Middle East programs. The US Agency for International Development (USAID), a US government agency “that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential,” will see its Middle East Regional Cooperation (MERC) program cut by 100%, effectively shutting it down.

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Additionally, the budget for US AID’s Middle East regional bureau, whose programs promote economic growth, democratic governance, peace, and security would be cut by as much as 58.2%.

Several Middle Eastern countries will see a boost in economic aid from the US State Department including $300 million for Iraq, an increase of 145% and $23 million for Libya, an increase of $13 million. Syria was allotted $150 million, an increase of 50% in economic aid.

A budget document released in March stressed that despite numerous proposed cuts in foreign aid, Israel will be provided with “$3.1 billion to meet the (US) security assistance commitment, currently at an all-time high.”

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News