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US gives $15 million to Palestinians

The United States said Thursday it is giving $15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp reversal from the Trump administration which cut off almost all aid to the Palestinians.


U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement at the U.N. Security Council’s monthly Mideast meeting, saying the money from the U.S. Agency for International Development will support Catholic Relief Services’ “COVID-19 response efforts in health care facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza."


In addition, she said, the funds will support emergency food aid to communities in need as a result of the pandemic.


“This urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”


Under former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, breaking relations and slashing financial assistance for the Palestinians. The Trump administration also reversed course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. It did restore about $1 million during the pandemic last year.


Soon after U.S. President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, his administration announced that it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of Trump’s cutoff and a key element of its new support for a two-state solution.


Thomas-Greenfield said the $15 million in aid is “consistent with our interests and our values, and it aligns with our efforts to stamp our the pandemic and food insecurity worldwide.”


Tor Wennesland, the U.N. Mideast envoy, told the Security Council that “COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on Palestinians.”


“In addition to the brutal impact on public health, the recurrent lockdowns, school closures, and reduction of commercial activity have severely undermined living conditions,” he said.

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