Democratic Senators Introduce Resolution to Restore U.S. Aid to Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza

Senators say Trump's string of mass cuts to various humanitarian relief organizations and withholding of allocated funds 'pushes peace further out of reach'

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. speaks during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, March 6, 2019.
Alex Brandon,AP

Six Democratic senators have introduced a resolution to restore U.S. humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Congress appropriated $257.5 million in 2018 for bilateral assistance to the two areas, but the Trump administration has not distributed the money because of perceived intransigence on peace talks by the Palestinians and payments to the families of those who have attacked Israelis.

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“President Trump’s refusal to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people is a strategic mistake,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., one of the lawmakers who introduced the measure, said in a statement. “Denying funding for clean water, health care and schools in the West Bank and Gaza won’t make us safer. Instead it only emboldens extremist groups like Hamas and pushes peace further out of reach.”

Along with Feinstein, the resolution was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkely of Oregon along with Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.

In January 2018, the Trump administration launched a review of all aid going to the Palestinians. In July, the administration said it would redirect all fiscal year 2017 funds to other countries. The Trump administration continues to hold the fiscal year 2018 funds pending the outcome of the review.