BREAKING NEWS

BREAKING NEWS

USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased - U.S. official

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By Stephen Farrell and Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has ended all assistance to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, a U.S. official said Friday.

The decision was linked to a Jan. 31 deadline set by new U.S. legislation under which foreign aid recipients would be more exposed to anti-terrorism lawsuits.

The deadline also sees the end of some $60 million in U.S. aid for the Palestinian security forces, whose cooperation with Israeli forces helps maintain relative quiet in the West Bank. [USKCN1PO14]

Congress' Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) empowers Americans to sue foreign aid recipients in U.S. courts over alleged complicity in "acts of war". The Palestinians have declined further U.S. funding, worried about legal jeopardy.

"At the request of the Palestinian Authority, we have wound down certain projects and programs funded with assistance under the authorities specified in ATCA in the West Bank and Gaza, a U.S. official told Reuters on Friday.

"All USAID assistance in the West Bank and Gaza has ceased."

The official said no steps were being taken to close the USAID mission in the Palestinina territories, and no decision had been made about future staffing at the USAID mission in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

(Reporting by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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