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United States resumes funding for United Nations company for Palestinian refugees

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration mentioned on Wednesday it had resumed US assist to the Palestinians, together with the UN company coping with Palestinian refugees, virtually all of whom had been worn out by the previous President Donald Trump.

The State Division mentioned it is going to present a complete of $ 235 million for tasks within the West Financial institution and Gaza in addition to the United Nations Aid and Works Company, or UNRWA. The administration beforehand introduced $ 15 million to the Palestinians to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The resumption of help has raised issues in Congress from pro-Israel lawmakers who say the cash may violate US legislation.

The Related Press beforehand reported that the administration notified Congress of its intention to extend assist to the Palestinians, however till Wednesday it had not publicly acknowledged any help apart from that for COVID-19. The brand new assist comes because the administration cements a brand new Center East coverage that in some ways is immediately against that pursued by Trump.

“America is happy to announce that by working with Congress, we plan to restart United States financial, growth and humanitarian help to the Palestinian individuals,” mentioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a press launch. He mentioned the cash contains $ 75 million in financial and growth help to the West Financial institution and Gaza, $ 10 million for peacebuilding packages and $ 150 million for UNRWA.

Blinken has sought to keep away from criticism from Congress by saying that “all help shall be offered in accordance with US legislation,” however Republican members of Congress are already making ready to combat the help.

Blinken argued that US assist was important to advancing US pursuits within the area.

“American international assist to the Palestinian individuals serves necessary American pursuits and values,” he mentioned. “It supplies crucial help to these in nice want, promotes financial growth and helps Israeli-Palestinian understanding, safety coordination and stability. It additionally aligns with the values ​​and pursuits of our allies and companions. “

The Biden administration has made no secret of its perception that Trump’s method to the Center East, which alienated the Palestinians, was flawed and made the prospects for peace much less seemingly. The brand new help seems to be aimed toward encouraging the Palestinians to renew negotiations with Israel, though there is no such thing as a indication that it’ll have that impact and that Israel has not but weighed in publicly.

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had advocated slicing funding for the reduction company, suggesting it was accountable for perpetuating Palestinian poverty and questioning whether or not all of the thousands and thousands of individuals it serves are actually refugees.

Only a week earlier than leaving workplace, Pompeo accused UNRWA of being “riddled with waste, fraud (and) issues supporting terrorism” and mentioned there have been fewer than 200,000 respectable Palestinian refugees. nonetheless alive.

In signaling their opposition to the renewal of funding, pro-Israel lawmakers observe specifically that federal legal guidelines prohibit direct help to the PA or the availability of assist that advantages the PA so long as it continues. to pay allowances to these convicted of anti-US or anti-Israel assaults and their households.

Already, a handful of Republicans are making ready to problem the help, claiming it violates the so-called Taylor Pressure Act and counterterrorism clarification legal guidelines, each of which have handed with sturdy bipartisan assist.

“We name on you to stop this spending till the State Division stories on statutory restrictions and corrects recognized gaps within the supply of this help, which for years have inspired and facilitated terrorism towards Individuals.” and the Israelis, ”mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. , mentioned in a draft letter to be despatched to Blinken {that a} dozen different GOP lawmakers are anticipated to signal.

The resumption of assist comes only a week after the non-partisan Authorities Accountability Workplace issued a report that the US authorities had did not correctly display all of its Palestinian funding recipients for US counterterrorism standards as required. the legislation between 2015 and 2019, when Trump broke many of the assist.

Whereas asserting that the US Company for Worldwide Growth adopted the legislation with respect to the individuals and teams it immediately funded, it didn’t do the identical with the entities, referred to as sub-recipients, to which these teams then distributed taxpayer cash. “If funding resumes, we suggest actions to enhance compliance,” the GAO report mentioned.

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