Biden restores assistance for Palestinians axed by Trump

Washington/Jerusalem: The Biden administration has announced it will provide $US235 million ($309 million) in aid to the Palestinians, restarting funding for the United Nations agency supporting refugees and restoring other assistance cut off by former president Donald Trump.

The package, including humanitarian, economic and development assistance, was detailed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as part of an effort to repair American ties with the Palestinians that all but collapsed during Trump’s tenure.

It marked Democratic President Joe Biden’s most significant move since taking office on January 20 to make good on his promise to roll back some parts of his Republican predecessor’s approach that Palestinians denounced as heavily biased in favour of Israel.

The plan calls for $US150 million through the United Nations relief agency UNRWA, $US75 million in economic and development assistance and $US10 million for peace-building programs, Blinken said.

Biden’s aides have also signalled that they want to re-establish the goal of a negotiated two-state solution as a priority in US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But any further major steps are likely to wait for the dust to clear after Israel’s inconclusive March election, which will be followed by Palestinian elections scheduled in coming months.

The Trump administration blocked nearly all aid after it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority in 2018. The move was widely seen as an attempt to force the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel on terms the Palestinian leadership branded as an effort to deny them a viable state.

Read the article by Matt Spetalnick and Stephen Farrell in The Sydney Morning Herald.