US-funded projects in the occupied Palestinian territories are facing a sharp backlash, amid calls for an organised boycott in reply to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A wave of anger in since the December announcement has led to protests aimed at halting Palestinian NGOs’ participation in US-funded programmes, ranging from clean water deliveries to support for law students, according to officials on both sides.
There have been protests, refusals to meet with US project managers and a rash of requests by groups backed by aid money to seek waivers to remove US-linked branding – including the US flag – from their promotional materials.
Among those pushing hardest for Palestinian NGOs to push for a more organised boycott of US-funded projects has been the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) national committee that issued a statement calling for a boycott of “activities organised or sponsored by US institutions (such as USAID), in Jerusalem and abroad”.
Events have been cancelled and offers of assistance rejected, including the decision by Palestinian law schools to pull out of an international event for which the US consulate had planned to provide plane tickets.
The issue of whether to widen the boycott is also due to be discussed by an upcoming meeting of the Palestinian central council, which will meet to discuss Palestinian response to Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
The sharp debate in Palestinian society over whether it should still participate in US-funded projects, and if so with what conditions, comes –as Trump and his UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, are themselves debating cutting US aid to both the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which sustains Palestinian refugees, and to the Palestinian Authority to force Palestinians back to the negotiating table.