The training of Palestinian doctors and life-saving surgery for children from Gaza could be terminated due to the US decision to halt funding for the Conflict Management and Mitigation Program, which—according to a New York Times's report Friday—is the latest funding program the United States has yet to budget.
US officials said the Conflict Management and Mitigation Program would not receive further funding in addition to the aid which was already approved and is expected to end in September.
Among the organizations that could be severely affected by this decision is the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, which runs programs for joint Palestinian and Israeli football teams, training programs for Palestinian doctors, and promotes life-saving surgeries for Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank.
Another program that is at risk is the Palestinian Peace Coalition—Geneva Initiative (PPC-GI) which ran a project that brought 500 Israeli and Palestinian young people together to participate in peace activities, learn about the conflict, and suggest different ways of resolving it.
Former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, criticized US administration's decision.
"The US decision to end grants for people-to-people programs that bring Palestinians and Israelis together (for sports leagues, environmental initiatives, etc.) is nonsensical. These programs build constituencies to support peacemaking, who view the US as their partner. No logic!" Shapiro tweeted Saturday.
"Palestinian participants in these programs are often criticized on their own side for engaging in "normalization" with Israelis. They are brave to do so. Now the US is abandoning them, the Palestinians whose attitudes or actions are exactly those we say we want," he added.
Jeremy Ben Ami, president of the left-wing organization J Street also slammed the decision, saying that the decision to cut off "funding to groups promoting peace and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is an absolute disgrace."
"Nothing could be more malicious and destructive than targeting the work of the dedicated activists struggling to break down barriers, build understanding and prevent violence," he tweeted Friday.
Tim Rieser, foreign policy aide to Senator Patrick Leahy who established the program, told the New York Times he had been notified last week by officials from the USAID that the Conflict Management and Mitigation Program would not receive further funding from the administration.
The program provided aid for soccer matches held between Israeli and Palestinian girls, joint meetings of Palestinian and Israeli farmers and a project enabling gatherings of youths from east and west Jerusalem.
According to Rieser, the USAID's officials did not want to cut the funding for the program, but had to line up behind the White House.
Nevertheless, aid programs to Palestinians, which have already been approved and are planned to continue next year will not be affected.
US President Donald Trump's special Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt tweeted, "I continue to believe in the importance of building relationships between Israelis and Palestinians, particularly kids.
"But, both Palestinian and Israeli kids will lose, and these programs will be meaningless, if the PA continues to condemn a plan they haven’t seen and refuses to engage on it. Hopefully the PA will lead. Let’s see," Greenblatt added.
Trump's special Middle East advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner told the New York Times on Thursday that “Nobody is entitled to America’s foreign aid."
“There were too many false realities that were created—that people worship—that I think needed to be changed,” he said in an interview.
“All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.”
Last week, the White House ordered the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, citing the refusal of Palestinian leaders to enter into peace talks with Israel.
The State Department said the move came after a review of the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization centered on the fact that no "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel" are underway, despite previous warnings.
US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert officially announced the decision in a press briefing.
"To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise," Nauert said in a statement.
In addition, two weeks ago, the United States halted all funding to a UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees in a decision further heightening tensions between the Palestinian leadership and the Trump administration.
"The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA," the State Department spokeswoman said.
The announcement came a week after US administration had announced it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.