The Biden administration is vamping up aid for Palestine, according to ABC News.
The Trump administration previously cut off almost all aid to Palestinians.
The Biden administration, after taking office, pledged to reverse Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian decisions.
Biden and his team have given nearly $100 million to Palestine.
It was announced that the Biden team would be giving $15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza in order to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
A single day after the announcement the Bidfen administration conveyed to Congress that they would be presenting Palestinians $75 million for economic support, to be used in part to regain their “trust and goodwill” after the Trump-era cuts.
It was not clear if the $75 million includes the $15 million in pandemic aid.
“We continue to believe that American support for the Palestinian people, including financial support, it is consistent with our values.”
“It is consistent with our interests. Of course, it is consistent with the interests of the Palestinian people.”
“It’s also consistent with the interests of our partner, Israel, and we’ll have more to say on that going forward,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The Biden administration had been very clear where it stands regarding Trump’s approach to the Palestinian people, in the perspective the Trump administration alienated the Palestinians and made prospects for peace less realistic.
The shelling out of $75 million is aimed to encourage Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, though there is no indication it will have that effect.
Nor is it clear if Israel will even consider coming to terms.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the congressional notification from the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development only hours after the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office issued a report on the matter.
The report stated that USAID had not properly screened all of its Palestinian funding recipients for U.S. anti-terrorism criteria that are required by law.
According to U.S. law, aid is not to be given to Palestine for the perpetrators and families of those convicted of anti-Israel or U.S. attacks.
Reasons such as these were one reason why the Trump administration cut off aid altogether.
It is anticipated that pro-Israel lawmakers, many of them Republicans, are likely to raise objections to the recent surge in funding.
The GAO ran a review of aid provided to the Palestinians between the years 2015 and 2019.
“If funding resumes, we recommend measures to improve compliance,” said the GAO report.
A large portion of the $75 million is intended to rebuild U.S.-Palestinian relations.
“Given the absence of USAID activity in recent years, engaging civil society actors will be critical to regaining trust and goodwill with Palestinian society,” the notification said.
“USAID adheres to rigorous partner antiterrorism vetting and certification, auditing, and monitoring procedures to help ensure that its assistance does not go to Hamas or other terrorist organizations,” the notice said.
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The funding plan represents a major shift in the U.S. approach to the Palestinians after the mutual recriminations during the Trump years.
Other areas identified for USAID funding include the health care sector and the resumption of assistance to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network that Trump had cut off, sanitation, water supply and transportation infrastructure, social services and job training for Palestinian youth, micro-loans and grants for small businesses as well as disaster preparedness.
In a bid to forestall expected questions and criticism from lawmakers who supported Trump’s aid cuts, USAID sought to assure Congress that it would ensure all legal criteria for providing the money would be met.
In announcing the $15 million in COVID-19 assistance, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said it was “one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” but she did not elaborate.
Thomas-Greenfield reiterated Biden’s support for a two-state solution and said “the United States looks forward to continuing its work with Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community to achieve a long-sought peace in the Middle East.”