US resumes assistance for Palestinians

The US government is resuming financial aid for Palestinians, reversing the previous administration's policies.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced in a press statement on Wednesday that the US will provide 235 million dollars in assistance for the Palestinians. This includes funding for the UN agency supporting refugees that was halted by former President Donald Trump's administration.

The package includes 150 million dollars in humanitarian assistance for the UN Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and 75 million dollars for economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza.

Blinken said US assistance for the Palestinian people serves important US interests and values. He stressed that the assistance is important as "a means to advance towards a negotiated two-state solution."

President Joe Biden had promised to resume US aid for Palestinians during his 2020 election campaign.

The Trump administration stopped funding UNRWA in 2018, forcing the UN agency to cut back on some of its operations. Trump focused on strengthening ties with Israel.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh welcomed the restart of US aid on Twitter.

He called upon the US administration "to create a new political path that meets the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people based on international law and UN resolutions."

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini also welcomed the funding disbursement in a statement.
He said, "UNRWA and the United States are historical partners in working together" and that it "could not be more pleased" to be partnering with the US again.

Lazzarini said UNRWA is the only institution "committed to protecting the safety, health and future" of the millions of Palestinian refugees. He added, "The US contribution comes at a critical moment, as we continue to adjust to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents."

He expressed hope that the resumption of US assistance will encourage other countries to contribute to the agency.