TEL AVIV – The Trump administration is gearing up for major cuts in U.S. foreign aid across the world with the notable exception of the Palestinian territories, which will receive increased funding, State Department documents obtained by Foreign Policy magazine show.
The documents, part of an internal budget proposal for 2018, seem to confirm the State Department and USAID’s 28 percent budget cut announced in March.
While many countries will suffer from major cutbacks or else have aid cancelled entirely, funds to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will see an increase of 4.6 percent for the 2018 fiscal year, from $205 million in 2017 to $215 million.
Increased aid will be funneled to Syria, Iraq and Libya to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while other countries in the Middle East will be subjected to cutbacks, according to the report. Those countries include, somewhat surprisingly, Egypt and Jordan.
Despite ostensibly warm relations and mutual admiration between President Donald Trump and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s aid will nevertheless be subjected to a 47.4 percent decrease. The proposal also includes a 21 percent cut in foreign aid to Jordan, even though King Abdullah is the only world leader to have met with the president twice over their shared desire to destroy the Islamic State.
In addition to the proposed aid cuts, the budget, if approved, would see an almost $1 billion cut in aid for climate change programs. Congress is likely to oppose the proposed cuts.
On Sunday, a senior delegation of Palestinian officials, including PLO Secretary-General and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, traveled to Washington ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to the White House next week for his May 3 meeting with Trump.