In a small step he hopes pays off big, President Joe Biden has proposed a series of initiatives to mend America’s ties with Palestinians that the Trump administration relished in cutting.
After spending the last two days in Israel, Biden will travel to the West Bank for a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and to visit a hospital in East Jerusalem.
Former President Donald Trump ended nearly all aid to Palestinians three years ago and fully sided with Israel’s positions in the decades-long dispute over a two-state solution.
That left Biden the enormous task of restoring Ramallah’s faith in Washington while breathing life into a peace process nearing death.
A $201 million chunk is for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNRWA, which provides refugee services in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan and more. Trump ended the decades-long assistance in 2018, which critics at the time argued was decided to place pressure on Palestinians to reach a peace deal with Israelis.
The move blew a budgetary hole in the agency as the U.S. accounts for about 30 percent of its funding. But with this new aid, the Biden administration ups its total provided to $618 million since the start of 2021.
The administration also proposed a multi-year contribution of $100 million for the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, which provides medical care ranging from oncological care to emergency services for 50,000 local patients — though the funding would require authorization from Congress.
Israel will also help Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza achieve 4G connectivity by the end of next year, per the fact sheet, while the U.S. will provide $15 million in humanitarian assistance to ward off dwindling food supplies due to the war in Ukraine.