Israel Reviewed Foreign Aid Programs in Palestinian Territories, Leaked US Cable Reveals

The Israeli Ministry of Defense launched in 2006 a review of foreign aid programs in the Palestinian territories in an attempt to categorize these and determine which ones should be continued, according to confidential U.S. diplomatic cables published by the Guardian.

Then-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz instructed Brig. Gen. Baruch Spiegel and Gen. Yosef Mishlev, who was the coordinator of government activities in the territories at the time, to facilitate the review, a Feb. 15, 2006, memo from then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones indicated.

According to the memo, Spiegel sought donors’ opinions on which projects should be retained. The Israeli Ministry of Defense’s standard was to retain projects that directly benefit the Palestinian people, such as those dealing with water and electricity. The projects were also assessed based on their impact on Israel.

“If the process that Spiegel described is, in fact, used, the MOD [Ministry of Defense] may be planning to take a very practical and humanitarian approach to assistance to the Palestinians. Instability or a humanitarian crisis in the territories is in no one,s interest, least of all Israel,” Jones wrote, while advising the U.S. State Department to clarify Israel’s priorities and explain which U.S.-backed projects should continue.

He further noted that “not all of the most effective U.S. projects can be characterized as dual use, and there is a decided lack of attention in the MOD’s calculus to programs for democracy development.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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