Republicans delay $75m in US aid to Palestine

A Palestinian man stands in front of the emblem of the UNRWA in Gaza City (Said Khatib - AFP)

Midle East Monitor  /  April 9, 2021

US Congressional Republicans delayed $75 million in aid from being sent to Palestinians, reported The Jerusalem Post.

Last month, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) sent Congress a “programme narrative” of $75 million in Economic Support Funds (ESF) for programmes in the West Bank and Gaza that would begin 15 days after the notification was received.

The USAID programmes for the Palestinians include roads, pavements, bus lots, emergency preparedness, adapting to climate change, “community initiatives” and “safe spaces to engage in community initiatives.”

Senator James Elroy Risch and Representative Michael McCaul used their positions as high ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and lead Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee to stop USAID’s notification about the reinstated funding from reaching the committees.

Therefore, the aid will not start on 10 April as scheduled.

On Wednesday, the United States announced plans to resume financial aid to the Palestinians and UNRWA.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would provide $150 million in humanitarian assistance to UNRWA.

Blinken explained that the US also plans to provide the Palestinians with $75 million in economic and development assistance for the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as $10 million for peacebuilding programmes through USAID.

Following the announcement, Risch and McCaul said that “resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza without concessions from the Palestinian Authority (PA) undermines US interests.”

“The PA is spending millions annually to compensate terrorists while the international community pays for the well-being of the Palestinian people.”

“A recent Government Accountability Office report rightly calls for increased oversight of Palestinian assistance to ensure compliance with anti-terrorism policies. The Biden administration should use all available leverage to secure behaviour changes from the [Palestinian Authority] PA, including ending terror payments,” they added, in reference to stipends paid to the families of Palestinian detainees and martyrs.