The US government is re-allocating money to the United Nations Palestinian refugee aid organization UNRWA. It was created in 1949 for Palestinians who had fled their homes, villages and towns in previous years because of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Almost 6 million Palestinians depend on aid.
“The United States is pleased to announce that we can resume economic, humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinians,” Foreign Minister Blinken said. The US government is spending nearly 200 million euros on it. 126 million euros go to UNRWA, 63 million euros for economic and development assistance and 8.5 million euros for peace promotion projects.
The decision is not unexpected. Biden had previously said during his election campaign that he would overturn a number of decisions made by his predecessor Trump.
President Trump Zette in 2018 almost all aid to the Palestinians stops. This has been interpreted as an attempt to force the Palestinian leadership to the negotiating table. Palestinians were outraged because Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinians have therefore refused to cooperate with Trump’s efforts to resolve the conflict with Israel.
Trump subsequently withdrew the financial contribution to UNRWA. At that time, that represented almost 310 million euros per year.
The Palestinian Authority, which has some form of self-government in parts of the West Bank, welcomes the decision of the Biden government and speaks of “very strong support” which will hopefully continue.
The UN also welcomes this decision. “A number of countries have significantly reduced their contributions to UNRWA. We hope the US move will encourage other countries to participate again.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry is less enthusiastic. UNRWA perpetuates the conflict rather than cooperating in a solution, a spokesperson said.