The Biden administration plans to restart aid to the Palestinians, overturning a Trump suspension in 2018 in an attempt to spark new tensions with the United States’ close ally, Israel.
The State Department said on Wednesday it was seeking to give $ 235 million to the Palestinians, including $ 150 million to the United Nations refugee agency for the Palestinians, UNRWA, and $ 75 million to development aid in the West Bank and Gaza.
“The United States is pleased to announce that by working with Congress, we plan to restart United States economic, development and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people,” said Antony Blinken, Secretary of State American, in a press release.
He said that American foreign aid to the Palestinian people serves “important American interests and values”, and that Washington considers advancing prosperity, security and freedom for both Israelis and Palestinians ” as a way forward towards a negotiated two-state solution ”.
The announcement marks one of the first concrete steps by Joe Biden’s administration to repair relations with the Palestinians, seeking to keep an election promise to roll back some Trump-era policies that were seen as favorable Israel.
Under Donald Trump, Washington recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the United States Embassy there. He also launched a diplomatic effort to normalize relations between Israel and several Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in measures seen as undermining the cause of the Palestinians.
Although the Biden administration has no plans to cancel these moves, it has indicated it will restore a greater sense of balance in relations with Israel and the Palestinians, who have broken off talks with the Trump administration on efforts to make a peace deal he saw it as one-sided.
Biden met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu four weeks after starting his presidency, after having already spoken with other traditional American allies such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
Gloria Steele, acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, said the United States had given more than $ 5 billion to support the Palestinians since 1994 and that the new injection of money would help the Palestinians respond. to “basic needs, to re-engage Palestinian society and to support economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Both the Trump administration and Israel have criticized UNRWA as being deeply flawed and biased against Israel.
“Obviously there are areas where we would like to see reform,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a press briefing Wednesday, saying it was best to “take a seat at the table “.