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US to Restore More Than $200 Million in Aid to Palestinians

US to Restore More Than $200 Million in Aid to Palestinians

Thursday, 8 April, 2021 - 11:15
Children ride their bicycles in front of a health center run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza (AFP)

The US administration had notified Congress of its plans to provide at least $235 million in aid to the Palestinians, despite the sharp division between parties on the matter.

Congressional sources told Reuters that the plan calls for $150 million through the United Nations relief agency (UNRWA), $75 million in economic support, and $10 million in development funding.

The administration emailed the notice to congressional offices.

Washington would resume security assistance to the Palestinians, despite reports of disagreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) because President Joe Biden hasn’t called President Mahmoud Abbas yet.

Washington is divided against the backdrop of the US administration’s desire to resume funding for UNRWA and restore other assistance cut off by then-President Donald Trump in 2018.

The Congress held closed hearings with a number of Jewish lobbyists urging them to dissuade Biden from resuming the aid, according to Foreign Lobby.

The organization is accused of supporting extremist ideas in the classroom and teaching children of “hating the Jews” and the Israeli state.

During his daily press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the administration is prepared to continue to engage the Palestinians, including Palestinian government officials, when asked about the level of engagement.

“I would fully expect that there will continue to be engaged with the Palestinian people and Palestinian leaders as well.”

The spokesman reiterated that it is a priority of this administration to engage the Palestinian people as well as the Palestinian leadership, adding that resuming assistance to the Palestinian people is also crucial.

Price also referred to the announcement of US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield about the $15 million in humanitarian assistance to provide relief to Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza who are currently suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Commissioner General of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini stressed that attacks on UNRWA are aimed at politicizing a humanitarian organization that has remained neutral in its work with Palestinian refugees.

He recalled there are 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA, many of whom have faced unimaginable suffering.

“As commissioner-general of UNRWA, my responsibility is to ensure that Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, receive the basic services to which they are entitled,” asserted Lazzarini in an article.

He denied charges that UNRWA plays a political role, asserting that it is mandated to provide direct, vital humanitarian assistance to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

“That is the agency’s priority and focus. It does not engage in politics.”

UNRWA, like all other United Nations agencies and international NGOs, is bound to the four humanitarian principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence that are enshrined in two UN General Assembly resolutions.

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