fog.png
Wednesday September 22nd, 2021 10:16AM

Biden administration quietly ramping up aid to Palestinians

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is quietly ramping up assistance to the Palestinians after former President Donald Trump cut off nearly all aid. Since taking office with a pledge to reverse many of Trump's Israeli-Palestinian decisions, the administration has allocated nearly $100 million for the Palestinians, only a small portion of which has been publicized.

The administration announced last Thursday that it was giving $15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. A day later, with no public announcement, it notified Congress that it will give the Palestinians $75 million for economic support, to be used in part to regain their “trust and goodwill” after the Trump-era cuts.

The State Department declined to comment on the notification, and it wasn't clear if the $75 million includes the $15 million in pandemic aid. Nevertheless, the funding plan represents a major shift in the U.S. approach to the Palestinians after the mutual recriminations during the Trump years.

In general, the administration supports a resumption in aid to the Palestinians, State Department spokesman Ned Price said.

“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,” he told reporters.

The administration has made no secret of its belief that Trump's approach, which alienated the Palestinians, was flawed and made prospects for peace less likely. The new assistance appears aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, though there is no indication it will have that effect and Israel's response has yet to be gauged.

A copy of the March 26 congressional notification from the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development was obtained by The Associated Press, just hours after the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office issued a report that found USAID had not properly vetted all of its Palestinian funding recipients for U.S. antiterrorism criteria as required by law.

Under U.S. law, the United States may not provide aid to the Palestinian Authority or fund projects it would benefit from as long as the authority pays stipends to the perpetrators and families of those convicted of anti-Israel or U.S. attacks. Such payments were one reason the Trump administration cut off aid. Although none of the assistance is to be provided to the Palestinian Authority, pro-Israel lawmakers, many of them Republicans, are likely to raise objections.

The GAO based its findings on a review of aid provided to the Palestinians between 2015 and 2019, when Trump severed most of the aid. While it said that USAID had followed the law with respect to people and groups it funded directly, it had not done the same with entities, known as sub-grantees, to which those groups then distributed taxpayer dollars.

“If funding resumes, we recommend measures to improve compliance,” said the GAO report, which was released late Monday.

According to USAID's congressional notification, much of the $75 million is intended for urgent short-term projects aimed at quickly rebuilding U.S.-Palestinian relations, which had sunk to lows during the Trump administration. The notice said the money may start to be spent on April 10.

“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, explaining the rationale for providing $5.4 million to Palestinian civic groups, including possibly independent media, in the West Bank and Gaza.

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.

“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.

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.

Under Trump, the U.S. provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv and breaking relations and slashing financial assistance for the Palestinians.

Soon after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20, his administration announced that it would restore relations with the Palestinians and renew aid as key elements of support for a two-state solution to the conflict.

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.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Small Business
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Biden administration quietly ramping up aid to Palestinians
The Biden administration is quietly ramping up assistance to the Palestinians after former President Donald Trump cut off nearly all such aid
11:44AM ( 5 minutes ago )
COVID-19 pushed total US deaths beyond 3.3 million last year
A new report says U.S. deaths last year topped 3.3 million, the nation’s highest-ever annual death toll
11:27AM ( 22 minutes ago )
'Cool but weird.' Macy's store transformed into school
Students who once shopped at a downtown mall in Burlington, Vermont, are now attending high school in the former Macy's department store, with gleaming white tile floors and escalators whisking them to and from classes
11:21AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Virginia governor seeks to accelerate marijuana legalization
People 21 and over in Virginia could legally possess and grow small amounts of marijuana beginning in July under changes the governor is proposing to legislation the General Assembly passed this year
10:58AM ( 51 minutes ago )
GOP Rep. Gaetz investigated over sexual relationship
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida says he is being investigated by the Justice Department but denies any criminal wrongdoing
9:34AM ( 2 hours ago )
Eager to build infrastructure, Biden plans to tax business
President Joe Biden wants $2 trillion to reengineer America’s infrastructure and expects the nation’s corporations to pay for it
8:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Ethics panel affirms Rep. Gohmert fine over metal detector
The House Ethics Committee is upholding a $5,000 fine against Rep. Louie Gohmert
9:09PM ( 14 hours ago )
Beyond bridges: Biden redefines infrastructure to add people
President Joe Biden is preparing to unveil the first phase of what he calls his “Build Back Better” package
8:26PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: Wyoming governor sticks with ending mask mandate
Wyoming’s governor is rejecting a call by President Joe Biden for states to reimpose mask orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic
7:50PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Experts examine bottom of big ship that was stuck in Suez
Egyptian officials say divers are inspecting the underside of a colossal containership that had blocked the Suez Canal
10:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Amid AstraZeneca setback, Germany banks on homegrown vaccine
A German company is gearing up for mass production of its groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine
10:17AM ( 1 hour ago )
The power of touch: Boutique stretching thrives amid COVID
Pandemic-weary Americans starved for human interaction and physical touch are taking advantage of a growing wellness option once reserved for Hollywood actors and elite athletes: boutique stretching
9:51AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Overseas Tokyo ticket holders may get only partial refunds
Many fans living outside Japan who bought tickets for the Tokyo Olympics from Authorized Ticket Resellers will not get full refunds
4:32AM ( 2 days ago )
Senate votes to extend small biz loan program for 2 months
The Senate has extended the deadline for business owners to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program
3:36PM ( 5 days ago )
Powell says economy recovering but Fed support still needed
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell says the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic has progressed more quickly than expected
8:14PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Business - Small Business
COVID-19 pushed total US deaths beyond 3.3 million last year
A new report says U.S. deaths last year topped 3.3 million, the nation’s highest-ever annual death toll
11:27AM ( 22 minutes ago )
'Cool but weird.' Macy's store transformed into school
Students who once shopped at a downtown mall in Burlington, Vermont, are now attending high school in the former Macy's department store, with gleaming white tile floors and escalators whisking them to and from classes
11:21AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down governor's mask mandate
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, ruling that the Democratic governor exceeded his authority by unilaterally extending the mandate for months through multiple emergency orders
11:11AM ( 38 minutes ago )
Reversing Trump, Pentagon to release new transgender policy
Defense officials say the Pentagon will sweep away Trump-era policies that largely banned transgender people from serving in the military and will issue new rules that broaden their access to medical care and gender transition
11:10AM ( 40 minutes ago )
AP interview: EPA head committed to 'scientific integrity'
The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency is taking steps to restore what he calls “scientific integrity” at the EPA
11:08AM ( 41 minutes ago )