U.S. Aid Agency Is Preparing To Lay Off Most Local Staff For Palestinian Projects

NPR.org | 4/17/2019 | Daniel Estrin
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Under orders from the Trump administration, the U.S. Agency for International Development is preparing to lay off most of its Palestinian aid workers in its West Bank and Gaza mission, according to U.S. government communications reviewed by NPR.

It's the latest step toward shrinking a decades-long U.S. aid mission to build the capacity for a future Palestinian state. In response to NPR's request for comment, a USAID official emailed a statement saying that the agency has "begun to take steps to reduce our staffing footprint." He did not want his name used.

Decision - Aid - Workers - Questions - Trump

The decision to dismiss the aid workers raises questions about how the Trump administration can implement the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan it vows to soon unveil — with an emphasis on major investments in the Palestinian economy, potentially funded by Gulf Arab states.

"It's a huge mistake," said former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who served during the Obama administration and said he was aware of USAID's plans to lay off staffers. "Even if you get big checks from the Gulf States, you will want development experts to help steer where that money goes. We won't have our own team of experts available. None of this makes any sense."

USAID - Staff - Employees - Communications - NPR

USAID is aiming to reduce its local staff of about 100 employees to only 14, according to official communications reviewed by NPR. Most of the employees to be laid off are Palestinians or Arab citizens of Israel, and the others are Jewish Israelis.

Last month, USAID held preliminary termination hearings, a formality required by Israeli law in which employees get the chance to plead their case before the termination is final. Next month, the agency is expected to notify employees they'll lose their jobs in July.

Shapiro - Team - Future - Development - Projects

Shapiro said it would be difficult and costly to reassemble an experienced team for any future development projects under...
(Excerpt) Read more at: NPR.org
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