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By order of the Trump administration, the US Agency for International Development is preparing to sack most of its Palestinian helpers in its West Bank and Gaza mission, according to US government communications reviewed by NPR.
It is the latest step on the road to a decade-long US aid mission to build capacity for a future Palestinian state. In response to NPR's request for a comment, an American official sent an e-mail stating that the agency "has begun to take action to reduce its workforce." He did not want his name used.
The decision to dismiss the assistants raises questions about how the Trump administration can implement the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan it will soon announce, with a focus on major investments in the Palestinian economy. possibly funded by the Arab Gulf States.
"It's a huge mistake," said former US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, who served during the Obama administration and knew he was know the plans of the USAID for the dismissal of coworkers. "Even if you get big checks from the Gulf States, you want development experts to help where that money goes, we do not have our own team of experts, and none of that makes sense."
USAID aims to reduce its local workforce from about 100 employees to 14, according to the NPR. Most of the dismissed employees are Palestinians or Arab citizens of Israel, and the others are Jewish Israelis.
Last month, USAID held preliminary hearings, a formality that provides for Israeli law case before termination is final. Next month, the agency is expected to inform employees about losing their jobs in July.
Shapiro said it would be difficult and costly to reassemble an experienced team for future development projects under a future US administration.
Two current employees confirmed that they had been informed of the expected redundancies, and one of them said he was optimistic when he said that final word was waiting for his work. Other Palestinian officials said they were told not to speak to the media, and declined to comment on NPR.
"The government is shooting a national treasure and people are dedicating their lives to the fight for America and the fight for peace," said Dave Harden, former director of the USAID Mission to the Palestinian Territories. "We give it up."
The government said on Wednesday that it will unveil its peace plan after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has assembled his new government and fails to end the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends early June
A spokesman for President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a White House senior adviser who led the peace effort, did not immediately respond with a request for comment on whether US layoffs could affect the peace plan.
For years, the US has been carrying out aid projects in the Palestinian territories with the blessing of Israel. Last year, the Trump administration saved half a billion dollars in Palestinian aid, including money for Palestinian cancer patients and food, to address a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The move was seen as an attempt to pressure Palestinian leaders to cooperate with US-led peace efforts.
Earlier this year, the US, due to a new US, gave halfway infrastructure projects such as a sewage system to a West Bank city against the Palestinian Authority for financial support of assassins convicted of the murder of Israelis.
Now the US should part with much of the staff that oversees these utilities. USAID wrote this statement by email: "We are currently taking no steps to shut down the USAID West Bank and Gaza mission, coupled with our commitment to the proper use of taxpayers' money in the wake of USID programs in West Bank and Gaza started to do so. "
For years, USAID Palestinian employees often faced personal risks during armed conflicts or threatened Palestinian groups to cooperate with the US. Employees were faced with such threats. American officials evacuated some of these employees from the Gaza Strip.
"She or her colleagues, USAID contractors, were caught in a crossfire and detained," he said.
Some local USAID employees may offer temporary contracts with other USAID missions in the region, but are not expected to regain full employment with the agency.
Former Palestinian Development Officer at USAID Leaving the Company The agency in 2015 began to waver when talking with NPR about its former Palestinian counterparts.
"I'm very emotional about that, we wanted to change people's lives," he said, speaking anonymously because he did not want to speak out against his former employer. "People really believed that was feasible." USAID [has been] creates infrastructure for factories, builds hundreds of schools and creates thousands of jobs, there was a real hope that there could be a future in which we can live independently, and now this hope collapses. "