Letter to Donald J. Trump, President of the United States - Continue U.S. Assistance to Palestinians

Letter

By: Gwen Moore, Ron Kind, Mark Pocan, Denny Heck, Adam Smith, Pramila Jayapal, Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, Jr., Donald McEachin, Lloyd Doggett II, Eddie Johnson, Gene Green, Joaquin Castro, Beto O'Rourke, Steve Cohen, Jim Langevin, David Cicilline, Matt Cartwright, Mike Doyle, Jr., Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Marcia Kaptur, Louise Slaughter, Paul Tonko, José Serrano, Jerry Nadler, Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Nydia Velázquez, Gregory Meeks, Ben Lujan, Jr., Bonnie Watson Coleman, Don Payne, Jr., Ann Kuster, Carol Shea-Porter, Alma Adams, David Price, G. K. Butterfield, Jr., Rick Nolan, Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Brenda Lawrence, Debbie Dingell, Dan Kildee, Chellie Pingree, Jamie Raskin, John Sarbanes, Bill Keating, Stephen Lynch, Mike Capuano, Seth Moulton, Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy III, Niki Tsongas, Jim McGovern, Richard Neal, John Yarmuth, André Carson, Pete Visclosky, Bill Foster, Jan Schakowsky, Danny Davis, Mike Quigley, Luis Gutiérrez, Robin Kelly, Bobby Rush, Dave Loebsack, Colleen Hanabusa, Hank Johnson, Jr., Lisa Blunt Rochester, Eleanor Norton, Elizabeth Esty, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, Diana DeGette, Scott Peters, Alan Lowenthal, Mark Takano, Linda Sánchez, Karen Bass, Ted Lieu, Pete Aguilar, Judy Chu, Julia Brownley, Salud Carbajal, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo, Ro Khanna, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, Mark DeSaulnier, Jerry McNerney, Ami Bera, Doris Matsui, Mike Thompson, Jared Huffman, Ruben Gallego, Raul Grijalva, Peter Welch
Date: Feb. 8, 2018
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Foreign Aid

Dear Mr. President,

As strong supporters of the United States' commitment to the security of the State of Israel and the safety and dignity of Israelis and Palestinians alike, we write to urge you to continue vital US contributions to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) and bilateral assistance to the Palestinians. Continuing to freeze this aid will harm American interests by exacerbating the threats facing both peoples and reducing the United States' ability to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a two-state solution.

Alongside robust and expanding US aid to Israel, Congress has regularly appropriated funds to help bolster Palestinian quality of life and governance, both bilaterally and through contributions to UNRWA, and security in the region. This assistance also helps to improve the lives of millions of children in the Palestinian territories, where more than 50 percent of children live below the poverty line.

The Israeli Government deems UNRWA's work providing basic services and education to Palestinian refugees so consequential for Israeli security that it has reportedly weighed in with your administration in support of maintaining US contributions to the agency, despite frequent criticism of it. Former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Peter Lerner wrote this month, "By weakening UNWRA and, consequentially, the Palestinian population even further, without a real administrative alternative, I believe that Palestinians will be even more susceptible to extremism and violence. This will not contribute to security or stability in the region."

Similarly, US-funded projects to help meet the essential needs of the Palestinian people and strengthen institutions of Palestinian civil society help fight instability and corruption. This vital US assistance provides for the maintenance of security and stability for Israelis and Palestinians against attacks by extremist forces. As one Israeli security official said speaking on the condition of anonymity this month, "Cutting funding would not bring anything good to the situation. Doing this would end up making the Palestinian leadership even weaker."

The deterioration in the near-term prospects for progress toward a negotiated peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would render a cut-off of US assistance all the more dangerous. Deliberately exacerbating the hardship of the Palestinian people and reducing the ability of their government to function would only contribute to the benefit of those who reject engagement. Extremist and anti-Israel groups would be all too eager to fill in the vacuum, deepening their hold in the region and expanding their destructive influence on the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

Accordingly, we urge you to continue providing aid to UNRWA and bilateral assistance to the Palestinians to promote US interests, Israeli and Palestinian security, and the stability of regional US allies.

Sincerely,


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