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Trump Administration Pressures Congress to Keep Aid for Palestinian Security

Trump Administration Pressures Congress to Keep Aid for Palestinian Security

Monday, 3 December, 2018 - 12:30
Members of the Palestinian security forces patrol during an ongoing operation to arrest wanted Palestinian gunmen in the old town of the West Bank city of Nablus, Wednesday, November 16, 2016. Majdi Mohammed / AP
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun
The administration of US President Donald Trump has been exercising pressure on Congress in an attempt to amend a law that would otherwise halt US support for Palestinian security forces.

The White House wants to keep the flow of aid, which has been put into question by a Congressional law passed in October.

Lt. Gen. Eric Wendt, who is in charge of US security coordination with Israel and the Palestinians, has been tasked to brief members of Congress on the implications of halting US support for Palestinian security forces, and its repercussions on the US peace plan or security coordination with Israel and its impact on Israeli security.

The US move comes in light of expectations that the Palestinian Authority (PA) will not receive US aid after the law passed by Congress has allowed US citizens, who have been injured or whose family members have been killed in an operation, to file a complaint against any state or organization that receives security assistance from Washington.

Trump signed in October the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act into law.

The Act was born out of a failed lawsuit by US citizens, who tried to bankrupt the PA and lead to its collapse by seeking compensation for acts of terrorism that took place during the second Intifada, in the first half of the last decade, when the PA was led by Yasser Arafat.

In April, the PA achieved a judicial victory in the US Supreme Court after its judges upheld a verdict to drop a $655.5 million compensation by the PA in a case brought by 11 US families.

Families of those killed in operations in the West Bank had sought to hold the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) responsible for six shooting and bombing incidents between 2002 and 2004 in the Jerusalem area. The attacks killed 33 people, including a number of Americans, and more than 450 persons were injured.

The lawsuit reached a dead end after the US Supreme Court upheld a ruling stating that American courts do not have jurisdiction to place penalties on the PA.

In response, Republican lawmakers pushed through a law that gives American courts jurisdiction over any entity that receives financial aid from the United States.

According to this law, if the PA accepts even a single dollar of US aid starting from next year, it will risk going bankrupt by order of an American court.

The US administration, however, has sought to amend the legislation to avoid a situation in which the PA will have to reject any kind of US financial assistance for security measures, in order to save itself from a disastrous lawsuit.

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