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US gives $15 million to Palestinians to deal with Covid-19

AP/United Nations
Filed on March 25, 2021
Palestinian workers wearing protective gear during a disinfection drive. — AFP file

The money to support Covid-19 response efforts in healthcare facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza

The United States says it is giving $15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

The US said on Thursday it is giving $15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic, a sharp reversal from the Trump administration which cut off almost all aid to the Palestinians.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement at the UN Security Council’s monthly Mideast meeting, saying the money from the US Agency for International Development will support Catholic Relief Services’ “Covid-19 response efforts in healthcare facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza.”

In addition, she said the funds will support emergency food aid to communities in need as a result of the pandemic.

“This urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” Thomas-Greenfield said. “The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Under former US President Donald Trump, the US provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv, breaking relations and slashing financial assistance for the Palestinians. The Trump administration also reversed course on the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. It did restore about $1 million during the pandemic last year.

Soon after US President Joe Biden was inaugurated on January 20, his administration announced that it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of Trump’s cutoff and a key element of its new support for a two-state solution.

Thomas-Greenfield said the $15 million in aid is “consistent with our interests and our values, and it aligns with our efforts to stamp out the pandemic and food insecurity worldwide”.

The US announcement on Thursday also follows a virtual meeting on Tuesday of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators — the US, UN, Russia and the European Union — to discuss relaunching their long-stalled effort to get Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict.





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