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U.S. cuts off all aid to Palestinian security forces

The U.S. government has ceased all security assistance to the Palestinian Authority for training and equipment starting today, a U.S. embassy official told me.

Why it matters: The move coincides with the new anti-terrorism clarification law (ATCA) going into effect. The official said the U.S. security coordinator and his team will continue to conduct a security cooperation-only mission.

Between the lines: U.S. aid to Palestinian security forces was supposed to be $60 million for 2019.

  • An Israeli security official tells me Israel and the Trump administration are still trying to find a solution that will allow the renewal of U.S. aid to the Palestinian security forces.
  • The official added: "The cessation of U.S. security assistance will harm the ability of Palestinian security forces to function and could harm security coordination with Israel and create tensions on the ground."

Background: The Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) forces foreign organizations to be subject to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts if they accept certain forms of assistance from the U.S. government. It was signed by President Trump last October with the intention of ensuring the Palestinian Authority pays compensation to terror victims who won civil suits against the PLO in U.S. courts.

  • The Palestinian Authority said that accepting the conditions of the ATCA would open them up to billions of dollars in potential liabilities. For that reason, the Palestinians have asked the U.S. not to provide aid after the law goes into effect.
  • The law was pushed by right-wing nongovernmental organizations in Israel and Republican members of Congress. At the time it was signed, few in the Israeli government, Trump administration or Congress realized its potentially problematic consequences.
  • Last week we reported that the Israeli government has warned the Trump administration from the negative consequences of the law and asked to amend it.
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