US restores assistance to Palestinians | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:08 AM, April 09, 2021

US restores assistance to Palestinians

The United States has restored assistance to the Palestinians severed under former president Donald Trump with an announcement of $235 million.

President Joe Biden's administration on Wednesday said the United States would again support the UN agency caring for Palestinian refugees with a contribution of $150 million.

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The United States will also offer $75 million in economic and development assistance for the West Bank and Gaza and $10 million for peacebuilding efforts.

"US foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important US interests and values. It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The funding is in addition to $15 million earlier announced by the United States in Covid assistance to the Palestinians amid criticism that Israel, a leader in vaccinating its own people, has not taken similar initiatives in territories under its occupation.

Israel argues that vaccination is the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, once counted on the United States as its top donor but has been facing a shortfall since Trump withdrew funds from 2018 on the argument that the refugees, some in camps for generations, should be resettled.

UNRWA praised Biden for resuming US financial support, saying it came at a "critical moment" amid the Covid pandemic.

"UNRWA could not be more pleased that once again we will partner with the United States to provide critical assistance to some of the most vulnerable refugees across the Middle East," the agency's commissioner general, Philippe Lazzarini, said in a statement yesterday.

The Biden administration has been restoring relations and support for the Palestinians although stopping short of unveiling any new peace initiative to resolve the historic conflict.

Shortly after Biden's inauguration in January, the United States said it would restore the Palestine Liberation Organization's liaison office that was shut down by Trump.

 

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