On January 31, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) went into effect, leaving many individuals and peacebuilding organizations in the region without funding midway through their programs.
Passed by Congress last year, the ATCA law was intended to make it easier for American victims of terrorist attacks to pursue litigation against entities alleged to have provided such terrorists with support. An unintended consequence of the legislation is the loss of millions of dollars in funding for coexistence groups working toward peace in the region.
As direct victims of a seemingly unintended consequence of ATCA, ALLMEP members EcoPeace, the Parents Circle Families Forum, and the Arava Institute are just a few of the groups left reeling from the loss of $8.3 million of promised funding.
A close reading of the law has left the Palestinian Authority (PA) with the understanding that, to accept any U.S. financial assistance (whether it be for security or coexistence programs) would effectively place the PA under the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Such a law could make the PA liable for court judgements for past involvement in terrorist-related activity.
As a result, the PA sent a letter to the U.S government in December stating that they would no longer accept U.S. funding of any kind.
The impact of ATCA is far-reaching as people-to-people organizations in the region, Palestinian students on State-Department scholarships, and countless others face the impact of lost funding.
ALLMEP member EcoPeace lost an expected $1.2 million dollar as a consequence of ATCA. The organization’s Co-Director Gidon Bromberg told Jerusalem Post (Link), “The madness in the whole thing is the unintended consequences; the administration never intended to cut people-to-people programing… It makes no sense. It is very disappointing and incredibly frustrating for organizations that have committed themselves to such important causes.”
While the government shutdown prevented movement on the Hill from amending the law, U.S. politicians are now working to alter the legislation to try to save some of the already allocated funding for people-to-people organizations.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, ALLMEP’s Joel Braunold stated:
It is in no one’s interest whatsoever to cut off funding to the very groups that are dealing with the hate and incitement that this conflict generates. By crippling those who are building peace from the ground up, we only deepen the challenge that we are all facing. I would hope that Congress takes urgent steps to remedy the misreading of the Anti-Terrorism [Clarification] Act. It was not the intent of the authors to completely remove any funding from groups that have nothing to do with the Palestinian Authority.
Check out these stories to read more about ATCA’s impact on ALLMEP members and the Israeli-Palestinian peacebuilding community:
- NPR – Opinion: Here’s Why U.S. Aid to Palestinians Needs to Continue
- Ha’aretz – A Direct Victim of U.S. Anti-terror Law: Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence Groups
- JWeekly – ‘It’s never been harder’ to work for peace in Israel, says NGO head
- Jerusalem Post – Diplomatic Affairs: The Anti-Terrorism Price Tag
- DevEx – USAID, US NGOs leave Gaza, West Bank over terrorism law
- Inside Higher Ed – Scholarship Stoppage
- +972 – With U.S. aid cuts, Palestinian women pay biggest price
- Al-Monitor – Palestinian students stripped of US scholarships
- IRIN – Aid groups worry new US anti-terror law could leave them liable
Photo credit: The Parents’ Circle-Families Forum
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