Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday the Biden administration will give Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank more than $100 million in new aid and will also reopen a consulate that was downgraded by former President Donald Trump.
Blinken was in Israel on Tuesday, days after a ceasefire agreement was reached between the Israeli military and the terror group Hamas.
After nearly two weeks of fighting between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas militants, which saw the IDF strike at rocket launch sites and other military targets in Gaza, the State Department, according to Blinken, will offer the Palestinian people $112 million in aid, Fox News reported.
“Across the meetings I’ve had so far, I’ve heard a shared recognition from all sides that steps need to be taken, work needs to be done, to address the underlying conditions that help fuel this latest conflict,” Blinken said during a media briefing.
“This new assistance comes on top of significant support the United States has recently committed and resumed to the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians, to different agencies and groups,” Blinken added, according to Fox.
“In total, we are in the process of providing more than $360 million in urgent support for the Palestinian people,” Blinken added.
According to The New York Times, the money is for “aid and other development funds for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.” Fox reported the Biden administration intends to “provide $75 million in additional development and economic aid. In addition, it will fund disaster assistance in Gaza to the tune of $5.5 million, and an additional $32 million to the controversial U.N. Palestinian refugee agency’s (UNRWA) emergency humanitarian appeal.”
The Trump administration had previously cut aid to the Palestinian Authority, The Times of Israel reported.
The secretary of state did say that the investment in rebuilding Gaza would only be productive if “what is rebuilt is not lost again because Hamas decides to launch more rocket attacks in the future.”
Do you think the Biden administration’s financial assistance to the Palestinians will strain the relationship between the U.S. and Israel?
Yes: 95% (54 Votes)
No: 5% (3 Votes)
It remains to be seen if the current peace agreement will hold, but no rockets have been fired into Israel since last week.
Blinken further announced at the briefing the Biden administration would immediately reopen the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem, which was downgraded by the Trump administration in March 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The consulate was downgraded when the U.S. embassy in the country was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as the White House recognized the holy city as the rightful capital of Israel — fulfilling a 2016 campaign promise.
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said from the White House in 2017, Reuters reported. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”
According to The Associated Press, the consulate had “for years served as the de facto embassy to the Palestinians.
“Trump had downgraded its operations and placed them under his ambassador to Israel when he moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city in 2018. The embassy move infuriated the Palestinians, who claim Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem as their capital, and led them to sever most ties with the Trump administration,” the outlet reported.
Blinken touted the supposed benefits of the Biden administration’s intended actions.
“As I told the president, I’m here to underscore the commitment of the United States to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people, a relationship built on mutual respect and also a shared conviction that Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity,” Blinken told reporters Tuesday.
Blinken also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, The Times of Israel reported. Blinken vowed to help Israel replenish its Iron Dome defense system following more than a week of Hamas rocket attacks that saw the system tested to its limit.
Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets into Israeli cities this month, leaving scores of people injured or killed.
In its response, Israel leveled buildings that housed terrorists and those sympathetic to Hamas across the Gaza Strip.
An official ceasefire was declared on Friday.