The United States said Thursday it is giving $ 15m to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp turn from the Trump administration that cut great all aid to the Palestinians.
U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement at a monthly meeting of the Middle East at the United Nations Security Council, saying that funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development will support Catholic Relief Services “” COVID response efforts -19 in health care facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza ”.
In addition, she said, the fund will support emergency food aid to communities in crisis as a result of the pandemic.
“This urgent, vital support is one part of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, providing greater stability and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. each other. “
‘Consistent with US interests’
Under former U.S. President Donald Trump, the U.S. gave unparalleled support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, diverting the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv, severing ties and slowing down financial support for the Israeli. Palestinian.
The Trump administration also rejected a course on the illegality of Israeli settlements on what Palestinians claimed. He returned about $ 1m in aid through the pandemic last year.
Shortly after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on January 20, his administration announced that it was renewing relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, halting cuts Trump and a key element of his new support for a two-state solution.
Thomas-Greenfield said the $ 15m in aid is “consistent with our interests and values, and aligns with our efforts to eradicate pandemics and food. all over the world ”.
Tor Wennesland, the DA’s Middle East ambassador, told the Security Council that “COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on Palestinians”.
“Apart from the brutal impact on public health, the recycling locks, school closures, and reduced commercial activity have severely weakened living conditions,” he said.
Last Sunday, the Palestinian health ministry began administering the first of 61,400 doses of coronavirus vaccines received from the World Health Organization’s COVAX campaign to provide vaccines to developing countries.
It was a stimulus to the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority had only received 10,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and 2,000 sightings from Israel for about three million Palestinians living on the West Bank.
The Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took control of the region in 2007, had received more than 80,000 vaccines, mostly Russian, from the United Arab Emirates.
DA officials and human rights groups have said Israel is an occupying power with responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian people. Israel says, under interim peace agreements, there is no such obligation. After pressure from his own health officials, Israel deployed more than 100,000 Palestinian workers on the West Bank who are licensed to work within Israel and the settlements.
Wennesland said the UN and its partners continued to support Palestinian vaccination efforts, expressed gratitude for Israel ‘s crucial role in delivery, and urged support for Palestine’ s COVID-19 response.
The U.S. announcement came Thursday after Tuesday’s landmark meeting of the Quartet of Middle East media – the U.S., the UN, Russia and the European Union – to discuss their long-running effort to persuade Israel and the United States. Palestinians negotiate a two-state solution to their decades-long conflict.
A brief statement from the four intermediaries, known as the Quartet, said that delegates spoke of a return to “meaningful talks leading to a two-state solution, including substantive steps to promote freedom, security and prosperity. for Palestinians and Israelis, which is important in its own right ”.
There have been no peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since 2014, and both sides are strongly divided on the main issues of the conflict.
Thomas-Greenfield made no mention of the Quartet meeting but reiterated Biden’s support for a bi-state solution and said “the United States looks forward to continuing its work with Israel. , the Palestinians and the international community to long seek peace in the Middle East “.