OVER THE LINE

Trump’s Threat of Cutting Gaza Funds Was So Brutal That Even Israel Pushed Back: Documents

President Trump’s push to slash funding for Palestinian refugees was so drastic that even an Israeli defense official privately urged him not to follow through, according to a Monday report from TYT. Last January, Trump lashed out on Twitter, writing that “we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” and threatened to pull funding to the embattled territory. Just a day later, according to a document obtained by TYT via the Freedom of Information Act, the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv sent a message to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlining the concerns of an unidentified Israeli defense official, who vociferously opposed cutting the funds of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which provides basic services to millions of refugees. “Speaking off the record, our contact cited particular concern with any move to reduce UNRWA funding in Gaza,” the document said. “He said that while the existence of UNRWA was a political poke in the eye to Israel, it nonetheless provided valuable humanitarian relief in Gaza.”

Trump did not heed the warning—two weeks later, he refused to provide $65 million of an expected $125 million payment. In August, he announced that America would stop funding the agency. As the memo predicted, TYT added, the consequences have been dire: The following month, the World Bank said Gaza was in “free fall,” with half of its population under the poverty line, and more than 70 percent of young people unemployed.