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US to restore aid to Palestinians cut by Trump

Washington (QNN)- The Biden administration announced on Wednesday the resumption of financial assistance to the Palestinian people, amounting to $235 million, as former US President Donald Trump cut the assistance in 2018.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the United States plans to restart US economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.

This includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peace building programs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that caters to more than five million registered refugees.

“We are also resuming vital security assistance programs. All assistance will be provided consistent with U.S. law. Economic assistance includes support for small and medium enterprises’ recovery from the effects of COVID-19; support for needy households to access basic human needs, such as food and clean water; and assistance for Palestinian civil society,” said Blinken in the statement.

He added, “A portion of this funding will support the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, as it continues to provide necessary and life-saving treatments to Palestinians.”

“This funding is in addition to the $15 million in humanitarian assistance to address the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity the United States announced in March,” said Blinken.”

“The United States is resuming support for UNRWA’s services, including education for over 500,000 Palestinian boys and girls, thereby providing hope and stability in UNRWA’s five fields of operation in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“Funding to UNRWA also provides critical COVID-19 assistance, including healthcare, medicine, and medical supplies, as well as cash and food assistance to families severely impacted by COVID-19.”

Blinken stated that US foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values.

“It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability. It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partner,” he said.

“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.”

He called on “other donors to support programs and activities that work toward a common goal of stability and progress for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

In 2018, the Trump administration blocked nearly all aid to Palestinians after it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

On January 17, 2018, the US cut more than half its planned funding ($65m out of a $125m aid package) to the UNRWA.

On August 25, 2018, the US cut $200m economic aid to the Palestinians after it had planned to provide $251m for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the 2018 budget.

On August 31, 2018, the US State Department said it is stopping all funding to UNRWA after determining the organisation to be an “irredeemably flawed operation”.

On September 9, 2018, the US slashed one of its last remaining aid programmes ($25m in financial assistance) to a network of six hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem.

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