The Biden administration will be providing $15 million in humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the first major aid delivery under the new president.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced the assistance in her remarks Thursday to the U.N. Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East.
“For our part, President Biden is restoring U.S. assistance programs that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people. Specifically, the United States is pleased to announce today $15 million in humanitarian assistance to support the most vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza.”
The aid will be distributed through the U.S. Agency for International Development and will go in part to the international humanitarian agency Catholic Relief Services’ work in the region, to the COVID-19 response efforts in health care facilities and affected communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Assistance will also support emergency food assistance programs in communities facing food insecurity that has been exacerbated by the pandemic, the State Department said in a statement.
The former Trump administration had made available $5 million in humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in April 2020 in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the former administration had in 2018 eliminated hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians and the main U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees and severed contact with Palestinian officials, shutting their representative offices in Washington.
President Biden as a candidate promised to restore relations with the Palestinian Authority, the internationally-recognized representatives of Palestinians and restart assistance to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Thomas-Greenfield said in her remarks at the Security Council meeting that the $15 million in assistance is part of the Biden administration’s “renewed commitment to the Palestinian people.”
She added that the U.S. is committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians take steps toward a two-state solution, “one in which Israel lives in peace and security alongside a viable Palestinian state.”
But Thomas-Greenfield also chided the council on a disproportionate focus on Israel and said the U.S. “steadfastly” stands by Israel.