USAID to lay off 85% of local employees on Palestinian projects

A Palestinian man walks near a USAID billboard in the West Bank village of Badhan, north of Nablus, last August. Since January, U.S. financing for humanitarian programs serving Palestinians has been suspended. (photo: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP / Getty Images)
Withdrawal of aid may be a sign of things to come.

By Yumna Patel | Mondoweiss | Apr 19, 2019

…the majority of the staff to be laid off are Palestinians from the occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel, while a smaller number are Jewish Israelis.

In the latest blow dealt by the American government to the Palestinians, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which was responsible for millions of dollars of aid projects in the occupied Palestinian territory, will be laying off some 85% of its local staff in the coming weeks.

A Thursday report from NPR citing U.S. government communications speculated that the Trump administration ordered the job cuts as part of the lead up to unveiling its peace plan, which is set to be released in the coming months.

USAID is expected to reduce its number of local staff from 100 employees to 14, NPR said, quoting an anonymous USAID worker who said they had “begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint.”

NPR noted that the majority of the staff to be laid off are Palestinians from the occupied territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel, while a smaller number are Jewish Israelis.

Reacting to the news of the layoffs, former director of the USAID mission for the Palestinian territories Dave Harden told NPR, “the administration is firing a national treasure. People dedicating their lives to fighting for America and fighting for peace…We are abandoning them.”

Earlier this year, USAID officially ceased all operations in Gaza and the West Bank following a 2018 decision to shutter the agencies work in the occupied territories, leaving thousands of local Palestinian institutions and businesses that benefit from USAID funding empty handed.

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