USA restores aid to Palestine, to provide $235 million; Palestinian president welcomes move
The US under Biden administration has announced that it would provide $235 million aid to the Palestinians, restarting funding for the United Nations agency supporting refugees and restoring other assistance cut off by then-President Donald Trump.
According to the news agency Reuters, the package, including humanitarian, economic and development assistance, was detailed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as part of an effort to repair American ties with the Palestinians that all but collapsed during Trump’s tenure.
The report said that the move marked Democratic President Joe Biden’s most significant step since taking office on Jan 20 to make good on his promise to roll back some parts of his Republican predecessor’s approach that Palestinians denounced as heavily biased in favor of Israel.
The plan calls for $150 million through the United Nations relief agency UNRWA, $75 million in U.S. economic and development assistance and $10 million for peace-building programs, Blinken said in a statement.
Biden’s aides have also signaled that they want to re-establish the goal of a negotiated two-state solution as a priority in U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Trump administration blocked nearly all aid after it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority in 2018. The move was widely seen as an attempt to force the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel on terms the Palestinian leadership branded as an effort to deny them a viable state.
The cuts came after Palestinian leaders decided to boycott the Trump administration’s peace efforts over its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, upending decades of American policy.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office welcomed Biden’s commitment to a two-state solution as well as the renewed aid. And Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh wrote on Twitter: “We call upon the American administration to create a new political path that meets the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people.”
But Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the United Nations, criticized the renewal of funding to UNRWA, saying that it allowed anti-Israel incitement and anti-Semitic activity in its facilities.
“We believe that this U.N. agency for so-called refugees should not exist in its current format,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.