Washington restores aid to Palestinians without accompanying diplomatic initiative

Palestinian youths take food they received from a United Nations-run aid distribution center in Gaza on April 7.

Palestinian youths take food they received from a United Nations-run aid distribution center in Gaza on April 7. MOHAMMED SALEM / REUTERS

The Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, formalized by a letter, Wednesday April 7, the resumption of American aid to the Palestinians which had been radically reduced by the administration of Donald Trump in 2018. This decision had at the time followed the breakdown of contacts between the Republican and the Palestinian Authority after the unilateral recognition by Washington of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in 2017.

In the wake of this reduction, the discreet official Palestinian representation in Washington was also closed. A tattered flag installed on the first floor of the building which housed its offices is today the only vestige. The Palestinians had not been associated with a “peace plan” particularly favorable to the Jewish state, presented in January 2020 by Donald Trump, but remained a dead letter.

Read also Middle East: Trump presents Israel-friendly “peace plan”

While the Biden administration has reiterated its attachment to the so-called two-state solution, the US foreign minister justified this turnaround by believing that this aid is used “Important interests and values” from his country. He added that he also considered it a factor of « stabilisation » regional.

A decision described as “historic”

Concretely, a total of 235 million dollars (198 million euros) will be released by Washington. Essentially, two-thirds of this sum ($ 150 million) will go to the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees from the wars of 1948 and 1967 (UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency). The last third (75 million) will be allocated to development projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

The UN agency immediately welcomed a decision described as“Historic! ” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also greeted her. These measures will make it possible to “Provide education and health services” to millions of Palestinians while economic and development aid will help to “Strengthen the infrastructure and basic services necessary to face the difficult living conditions of the Palestinian people under occupation and hit by the pandemic due to the coronavirus”, he reacted in a press release.

On the contrary, the Israeli foreign ministry has distanced itself by asserting that the UN agency “In its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution”. “The return of aid to UNRWA should be accompanied by substantial and necessary changes in the nature, purposes and way of doing business”, he said in a statement.

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