The Trump administration just announced a $200 million cut in humanitarian aid to Palestinians. This, on top of cutting aid to a U.N. agency that assists Palestinians in need. Both of these actions follow the United States' moving its embassy to Jerusalem this year. Neither of these moves are designed to promote peace in the region, and do not recognize the deeply held beliefs of Palestinians in their need for self governance. Pulling humanitarian aid in the name of promoting conflict and trying to improve a bargaining position is not only unjust, it is immoral.
In my last post, I covered a lot of ground on Israel's history, including the need for Jewish self governance, as well as the detrimental effects of being an occupying force in the West Bank since 1967. The need for self governance is no less acute for Palestinians than it was for the Jewish people in 1948 - Palestinians are a people without a homeland; what other country can and does claim the Palestinian people as its own? Palestinians are at the mercy of other nations for aid and goodwill. A Palestinian nation could attract investment, infrastructure, and be a platform for trade and international recognition and relationships with its neighbors. A functioning Palestinian state would give Palestinians a voice and a role on the world stage, and a chance to manage their own affairs. It would relieve Israel of the corrosive and detrimental burden of occupying the West Bank and ruling over millions of Palestinians.
No doubt this would be a long and winding road to get there - the region has a history of violence, and the current Hamas governance in Gaza is dedicated to terrorism and Israel's destruction. This would have to change, but that is not without precedent. The IRA, Sinn Fein and the UK reached across the table to make peace with each other. The horrendous conflict in the Balkans was brought to an end, with each state able to effect its own governance in relative stability.
Israel, the U.S., and surrounding Arabic countries would need to help the new state onto its feet. Symbolism and longing is incredibly important to the Jewish people, and it is no less true for Palestinians; the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is a sacred and ancient holy site for Islam. Some part of Jerusalem would need to be the capital of Palestine. While the 'right of return' as it is commonly thought of is not a feasible option for Israel to accept, the 'right of return' for Palestinians to return to a Jerusalem capital absolutely is.
Coming back to the recent actions by the Trump administration to pull aid - this is a terrible development, weakening the ability for the U.S. to be a broker of peace. While it is true that the UN continues - unhelpfully - to promote the idea of a 'right of return' for Palestinians, I do not believe humanitarian aid should be conditional. Like so many other actions of this administration, it shows little regard for human suffering and instead picks fights regardless of the costs to people in need. We need to speak up for all peoples in need, and call out injustice where we see it. I adamantly oppose cutting off aid to Palestinians, and in fact believe we should be doing the opposite by investing in, and helping the Palestinian people to its feet.