US gives Palestinians $ 15 million to fight COVID-19 | Palestine News

The United States on Thursday said it was giving $ 15 million to vulnerable Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a sharp overthrow of the Trump administration that cut off almost all aid to the Palestinians.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield made the announcement at the monthly United Nations Security Council meeting on the Middle East, saying money from the U.S. Agency for International Development will support response efforts to the COVID-19 from Catholic Relief Services in health facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza ”.

In addition, she said, the funds will support emergency food aid to communities in need due to the pandemic.

“This urgent and necessary aid is part of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “The aid will help Palestinians in need, which will bring more stability and security to Israelis and Palestinians.”

“ In line with American interests ”

Under former US President Donald Trump, the United States provided unprecedented support to Israel, recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US embassy to Tel Aviv, severing relations and reducing financial aid to Israel. Palestinians.

The Trump administration has also turned the tide of the illegitimacy of Israeli settlements on land claimed by Palestinians. It returned around $ 1 million in aid during the pandemic last year.

Shortly after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on January 20, his administration announced it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of Trump’s cutoff and a key part of its new support for a two-state solution.

Thomas-Greenfield said the $ 15 million aid is “in line with our interests and values, and it aligns with our efforts to end the pandemic and food insecurity around the world.”

Tor Wennesland, the UN envoy to the Middle East, told the Security Council that “COVID-19 continues to have a devastating effect on the Palestinians.”

“In addition to the brutal impact on public health, the recurring lockdowns, school closures and the reduction in business activities have seriously compromised living conditions,” he said.

Immunization efforts

Last Sunday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health began administering the first of 61,400 doses of coronavirus vaccine it received from the United Nations World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative to deliver vaccines to developing countries.

It was a boost for the occupied West Bank where the Palestinian Authority had obtained only 10,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 2,000 injections from Israel for the estimated three million Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank.

The Gaza Strip, which has been under Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas took control of the area in 2007, has received more than 80,000 vaccines, mostly Russian, from the United Arab Emirates.

Officials from the UN and human rights groups have said Israel is an occupying power with responsibility for immunizing the Palestinian population. Israel says that under the interim peace accords, it has no such responsibility. After pressure from its own health officials, Israel inoculated more than 100,000 Palestinian workers in the occupied West Bank who have work permits inside Israel and in the settlements.

Wennesland said the UN and its partners will continue to support Palestinian vaccination efforts, expressed gratitude for Israel’s critical role in deliveries and urged support for the Palestinian response to COVID-19.

Stalled negotiations

Thursday’s U.S. announcement followed a virtual meeting on Tuesday of mediators from the so-called Middle East Quartet – the United States, the UN, Russia and the European Union – to discuss reviving their efforts longstanding campaign to get Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution to their decades-old conflict.

A brief statement from the four mediators, known as the Quartet, said the envoys discussed returning “to meaningful negotiations that will lead to a two-state solution, including tangible steps to advance freedom, security, and security. and the prosperity of Palestinians and Israelis, which is important in its own right. “

There have been no substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians since 2014, and the two sides are fiercely divided on the core issues of the conflict.

Thomas-Greenfield made no mention of a Quartet meeting, but reiterated Biden’s support for a two-state solution and said that “the United States looks forward to continuing its work with Israel, the Palestinians and the international community to achieve a long-sought peace in the country. Middle East”.

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