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Biden administration intends to restore $125m in aid to Palestinians: Report 

The State Department and USAID sent official notification to Congress in latest move to reverse Trump-era policy in the Middle East
The Biden administration has pledged to resume hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians (AFP/File photo)
The Biden administration has pledged to resume hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians (AFP/File photo)

The Biden administration has sent Congress official notice of its intent to restore aid to the Palestinians, a congressional source told the Hill

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department notified Congress of their intent to deliver approximately $125m in previously approved aid, the source said. 

The funds were largely appropriated in the 2020 budget but were halted by the Trump administration, which severed ties to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 2018 after its plan for Israel and Palestine - dubbed "the deal of the century" - failed to win support. 

The aid being prepared by the Biden administration reportedly includes $75m set to go towards economic growth and increasing access to basic needs and programmes in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. 

A series of aid packages

Congress also was notified that USAID planned to provide a further $10m for cross-border, people-to-people reconciliation activities, the Hill reported. 

The State Department will further deliver $40m from the 2016 and 2017 budget that was meant to go towards security cooperation programmes, specifically the West Bank International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement fund. 

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The State Department did not respond to Middle East Eye's request for comment by the time of this article's publication. 

On Wednesday, however, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said US aid and support to the Palestinians was "consistent" with US values and interests. 

He added that such support was also consistent with the interests of the Palestinian people and Israel. "We'll have more to say on that going forward," he said. 

Since President Joe Biden took office on 20 January, the administration has pledged to resume hundreds of millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance and work towards reopening the Palestinians' diplomatic mission in Washington, all of which were halted under President Donald Trump.

In January, Republican lawmakers challenged the administration's plans to resume US aid to Palestine, saying doing so would violate the 2018 Taylor Force Act, but the administration disputed such claims, saying the restoration of aid "will fully comply with US law".

Covid-19 support

Last week, the US announced plans to provide $15m in humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The funds were largely allocated for assistance in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, with the State Department noting the aid would target the "most urgent, life-saving humanitarian needs". 

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The money is also set to support emergency food assistance programmes in communities facing food insecurity exacerbated by the pandemic, the department said. 

The allocation of aid specifically earmarked for a Covid-19 response came after several groups of lawmakers urged the Biden administration to pressure the Israeli government to extend its vaccine programme to the Palestinian population under its occupation. 

In March, a leaked internal draft memo said the State Department initiative that would attempt to "reset" relations with the Palestinians, while pressuring Israel over its settlement activities. 

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the United Nations, welcomed the move at the time, saying the "urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people". 

"The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. That's consistent with our interests and our values, and it aligns with our efforts to stamp out the pandemic and food insecurity worldwide."