Biden govt. restores aid to Palestinians

Secretary of State Antony Blinken. File   | Photo Credit: AP

In a significant reversal to the Trump administration’s policy towards the Palestine, the State Department, on Wednesday, announced the restoration of at least $235 million in financial assistance to the Palestinians. The administration had already announced $15 million in coronavirus relief to the Palestinians in March.

Economic assistance

Wednesday’s announcement includes $75 million in economic assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million towards ‘peacebuilding’ programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and $150 in humanitarian assistance to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The UNRWA funds , the State Department said, would include educational assistance for at least 500,000 Palestinian children living in West Asia.

The Trump administration had almost ended all funding to the organisation in 2018 . Mr. Trump’s policies towards the Middle East - which included the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem - were criticized for being heavily tilted towards Israel.

“The United States is committed to advancing prosperity, security, and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians in tangible ways in the immediate term, which is important in its own right, but also as a means to advance towards a negotiated two-state solution,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released on Wednesday.

New political path

The UN welcomed the move, hoping it would attract more funds to the body . “We hope that others will now follow suit. There were a number of countries that had greatly reduced or halted contributions to UNRWA,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the Secretary General said on Wednesday.

Welcoming the move, the Prime Minister of Palestine , Mohammed Shtayyeh called for “a new political path that meets the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people based on international law and UN resolutions” in a tweet.

Israel, which has accused UNRWA of anti-Semitism, objected to the funding plans. “Israel’s position is that the organization in its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution,” the Israeli foreign ministry said as per the Associated Press.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 5:00:50 PM |

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