Biden Administration Announces $15m in COVID Aid to West Bank, Gaza

Coronavirus aid announced after several U.S. lawmakers urged Biden to pressure Israel on vaccinating the Palestinians

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Nurses prepare shots of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to administer to doctors, in the Gaza Strip, Sunday.
Nurses prepare shots of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to administer to doctors, in the Gaza Strip, Sunday. Credit: AP Photo/Adel Hana
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON – The United States will send $15 million to the Palestinians to assist in the COVID-19 response in the West Bank and Gaza, President Joe Biden's administration announced Thursday, two years after former President Donald Trump cut all aid.

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According to a State Department announcement, the U.S. Agency for International Development will support the Catholic Relief Services COVID-19 response efforts, as well as emergency food assistance programs for insecure communities who have seen conditions exacerbated by the pandemic.

"This small step in advancing the well-being of the Palestinian people is fully in keeping with American values," the State Department said. The Biden administration has reportedly been crafting a plan aimed at resetting U.S. ties with Palestinians after their collapse under Trump — including the resumption of economic and humanitarian aid, as well as the reopening of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington.

The move came after several U.S. senators and members of Congress urged Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to further push the Israeli government to help vaccinate the Palestinians against COVID-19.

"This urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said. "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."