WASHINGTON – State Department documents published Monday by Foreign Policy magazine show that while the Trump administration is preparing major cuts in U.S. foreign aid across the world, one of the few areas where the administration actually wants to increase spending is in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza.
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The documents are part of an internal budget plan that seems in line with the administration's stated goal of a deep cut of more than a third of the State Department and USAID's total budget. They show major cuts in foreign aid to numerous countries in all continents, but a small rise of 4.6 percent in foreign aid to the West Bank and Gaza, which would go up to $215 million for the 2018 fiscal year.
In addition to these territories, other places in the Middle East that would see increased aid spending are Syria, Iraq and Libya, which will all see hundreds of millions of dollars invested should the budget proposal receive approval. All other countries in the Middle East that appear in the document, however, will suffer severe cuts in aid.
The document proposes a 47.4 percent cut to Egypt's aid – a surprising policy in light of the warm and friendly way in which Trump has treated Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. It also proposes a 21 percent cut in foreign aid to Jordan, whose leader, King Abdullah, is the only world leader to have been invited to meet the president twice since his inauguration.
The United States could perhaps "compensate" Egypt and Jordan by keeping their current levels of military aid. But these proposed cuts would make things much harder for Sissi and King Abdullah economically.
These proposals are already creating a backlash in Congress from both Democrats and Republicans, who warn against such deep cuts to foreign aid that they say help key American allies across the world, including in the Middle East.