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End of U.S. aid dooms partly-built school, other projects in West Bank

By
Ed Adamczyk
A Palestinian boy walks past construction workers building an extension to a girl's school in Al-Jabba, near Bethlehem, West Bank, on Wednesday. The $1.4 million dollar project will be terminated due to the elimination of U.S. aid. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
A Palestinian boy walks past construction workers building an extension to a girl's school in Al-Jabba, near Bethlehem, West Bank, on Wednesday. The $1.4 million dollar project will be terminated due to the elimination of U.S. aid. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The end of U.S. financial aid to Palestinian authorities in the West Bank is affecting a number of things, including a half-built school that won't have enough money to finish.

The $1.4 million school was supposed to educate Palestinian children. The cutting of U.S. aid puts its future in question.

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The school in Al-Jabaa, near Bethlehem, received a U.S. Agency for International Development grant in 2018 for a project to add a library and science laboratory.

"The students cannot go back to school now," said Al-Jabaa Mayor Diab Mashaala. "If it was as it was before, it would be better than now."

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The school will remain unfinished unless another donor is found, said Sean Carroll of Anera, a U.S.-funded organization involved in the school's construction.

"This school has been caught in the middle," Carroll told Middle East Online. "You would hope that reasonable minds would find a way to finish the school to allow the kids to learn."

Work on a multimillion dollar sewer network in Jericho will also stop. Both are among the projects funded by USAID, which will end its support of the Palestinian Authority on Feb. 1 under an order from President Donald Trump. Last year, he cut the development aid budget to Palestine by over $500 million, forcing non-government organizations in Gaza and the West Bank to cut staff and reduce programs.

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As a result, the Palestinian Authority has declined all U.S. funding since the start of this year to avoid potential lawsuits under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act. The law allows victims of terrorism to sue recipients of U.S. assistance funds. Legislation passed by Congress demands any government receiving aid is subject to legal action.

"The government sent an official letter to the U.S. administration requesting it stop all aid to the Palestinian Authority, including assistance to the Palestinian security services," Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian Authority official, said.

In all, construction of five water and sewage projects and two schools will be abandoned.

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Palestinian officials also severed ties with the United States after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.

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