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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - WASHINGTON — The United States said on Wednesday it is restarting assistance to the Palestinians, announcing $235 million in new humanitarian, economic and development support, reversing a Trump-era decision to cut such funding.
“The United States is pleased to announce that, working with Congress, we plan 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 peacebuilding programs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA),” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
In 2018, as relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority leadership deteriorated over the administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy there, the administration cut more than $200 million in bilateral aid.
“We are also resuming vital security assistance programs. All assistance will be provided consistent with US 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.
"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,” the statement said.
The Trump administration also began to cut its support to UNRWA in 2018, ultimately withdrawing more than $300 million in support.
The new US administration led by President Joe Biden has decided to resume the support to the UN agency.
Announcing the resumption of aid, Blinken said: 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.
"The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that our partnership with UNRWA promotes neutrality, accountability, and transparency. As with all of our engagements with UN institutions, the United States needs to be at the table to ensure that the reforms advance efficiencies and are in accord with our interests and values.”
“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. It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partners,” Blinken added in the statement.
The US secretary of state also called for a negotiated two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“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. The United States encourages other donors to support programs and activities that work toward a common goal of stability and progress for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” Blinken added in the statement. — Agencies
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