Trump’s bear hug risks crushing Israel

A Palestinian refugee waits for a medical check at a UN-operated health center at the Asker refugee camp in the West Bank, Sep 1, 2018. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
By gratuitously insulting and defunding the most moderate Palestinian faction, Trump is opening the door to the radicals. That’s a Rosh Hashanah present Israel could do without.

By Max Boot | The Washington Post | Sep 11, 2018

The Trump administration, which has already pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, has jettisoned U.S. commitment to international law. The United States, once the linchpin of the international system, is turning into a rogue state.

National security adviser John Bolton made headlines on Monday with his blistering attack against the International Criminal Court. But “Bolton attacks ICC” is a dog-bites-man story if there ever was one. Bolton has been on a tear against the ICC since its inception, and his blood-curdling threats against nations that cooperate in investigations of US troops are more of the same. In substantive terms, though, his objections were already codified in the 2002 American Service-Members’ Protection Act, which went so far as to authorize military force to free any U.S. personnel held by the court.

Of greater immediate consequence is the fact that Bolton announced the closing of the Palestine Liberation Office mission in Washington, ostensibly in retaliation for “Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.” The Trump administration thereby takes a giant step back from the Oslo Accords, which resulted in formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority.

This is simply the latest Trump assault against Palestinians. On Aug 31, the administration cut all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which operates 677 schools educating 515,260 Palestinian students, 143 health facilities with 8.8 million annual outpatient visits, and a Social Safety Net program, composed of food and modest cash stipends, that serves 292,000 people. The United States was UNRWA’s biggest donor last year, contributing $368 million, more than a quarter of the agency’s budget.

The end of support for UNRWA was followed by a cut-off of $200 million that the US Agency for International Development had provided for infrastructure projects — such as roads, sewers, and electrical lines — that employ thousands of people in the West Bank. This week, the administration even cut off $25 million for hospitals in East Jerusalem that provide the most advanced medical care to Palestinians in the West Bank. The only funding President Trump hasn’t eliminated is $60 million for the Palestinian security forces.

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