The Biden administration said it has designated $235 million to fund projects in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as resumed funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, that the Trump administration had cut off.
“The United States is pleased to announce that, working with Congress, we plan to restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. He said the money includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peacebuilding programs and $150 million for UNRWA.
There’s a question of whether any of the aid is legal, but Blinken claims it will be distributed according to U.S. law. This may be difficult. UNRWA has been caught several times allowing their schools to be used as rocket launching sites and Israel considers them the enemy. And some of its schoolbooks blatantly promote anti-Semitism.
“Israel’s position is that the organization in its current form perpetuates the conflict and does not contribute to its resolution,” the Israeli foreign ministry said. “The renewal of aid to UNRWA should be accompanied by substantial and necessary changes in the nature, goals and conduct of the organization.”
The Biden administration has made no secret of its belief that Trump’s approach to the Mideast, which alienated the Palestinians, was flawed and made prospects for peace less likely. The new assistance appears aimed at encouraging the Palestinians to return to negotiations with Israel, though there is no indication it will have that effect and Israel has yet to weigh in publicly.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had championed the removal of funding for the relief agency, suggesting it was responsible for perpetuating Palestinian poverty and questioning whether all of the millions of people it serves are actually refugees.
Just a week before leaving office, Pompeo accused UNRWA of being “riddled with waste, fraud (and) concerns of support to terrorism” and said there are fewer than 200,000 legitimate Palestinian refugees still alive.
Can there really be “third-generation” refugees? It’s organizations like UNRWA that perpetrate Palestinian victimhood and feed the “right of return” delusion that makes peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians impossible.
Already, a handful of Republicans are preparing to challenge the aid, maintaining that it violates the so-called Taylor Force and the Anti-Terrorism Clarification acts, both of which passed with strong bipartisan support.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate foreign affairs committees said the resumption in aid “undermines U.S. interests.”
“We will continue to scrutinize every proposed program to ensure the administration’s actions are in lockstep with the Taylor Force Act and in compliance with all laws governing assistance to the Palestinians,” said Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas and Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho. “Additionally, we are disappointed that the Biden Administration has decided to resume funding for UNRWA without securing any reforms from the organization.”
The “two-state solution” Biden is so in love with is dead. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has all but declared it so and recognizing this, Trump never pursued it. Biden wants to resurrect negotiations for something that neither side really wants but that the international community has blessed.
The Palestinians say there will be no peace without a guaranteed right for Palestinians to return to their land. That won’t happen unless an agreement is imposed on Israel and the Israelis aren’t going to let that happen.