US cuts funding for children’s soccer games between Israel and Palestine

Palestinian girls play soccer in Ramallah. (photo: Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
The United States is cutting the last of its funding to Palestine, in support of cross-border programs between Israelis and Palestinians.

By Edward Wong | The New York Times | Sep 14, 2018

The decision to cut off funding for the West Bank and Gaza [is] a sign that this White House has failed at diplomacy. This is not a partisan view. It’s the view of those who recognize that you don’t advance the cause of peace by cutting off programs that are designed to promote tolerance, understanding and address shared problems.
— Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy, (Dem. VT)

As part of its policy to end all aid for Palestinian civilians, the United States is blocking millions of dollars to programs that build relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, according to current and former American officials briefed on the change.

The move to prevent Palestinians — including, in many cases, children — from benefiting from the funds squeezes shut the last remaining channel of American aid to Palestinian civilians.

The money had already been budgeted by Congress for allocation in fiscal year 2017, which ends this month. In the past, these designated funds went mostly to programs that organized people-to-people exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, often for youth. Some went to programs for Israeli Jews and Arabs.

Advocates had hoped this last $10 million pot of money would remain available to projects with Palestinians, even as the Trump administration cut all other aid.

But last week, officials from the United States Agency for International Development told congressional aides that programs that benefit Palestinians alongside Israelis would not receive any new money, said Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont. Mr. Leahy established the broader program managed by USAID.

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