US announces $316 million in new financial support for Palestinians

The aid is expected to cover health care, UNRWA and mobile phone networks

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US President Joe Biden announced on Friday a number of financial initiatives to support the Palestinian people.

The aid package is estimated at $316 million and is on top of the more than half a billion dollars the US has provided to the Palestinian people since the Biden Administration restored the much-needed funding.

During his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in occupied East Jerusalem, the president announced that the US intends to provide a new multi-year US contribution of up to $100m for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network to ease financial burdens that has seen the facility turn away new patients.

"These hospitals are the backbone of the Palestinian healthcare system, people turn to you in their moment of need,” he said during remarks at the hospital.

He praised the role of nurses in caring for patients and shared his own experiences of how nurses helped him and his sons when receiving critical care. He told the medical professionals in the room that he feels nurses are underappreciated.

The hospital specialises in cancer care but due to a lack of funding has been struggling to provide vital lifesaving interventions.

"When I got elected president one of my goals was to change cancer as we know it so that it is no longer viewed by so many people as a death sentence but as a disease that can be either cured or lived with," he said.

“It's my prayer that the United States will both help relieve the hospital's burden of debt and support target infrastructure upgrades and key reforms in patient care to ensure long term financial stability.”

He also welcomed the recent $25 million donation from the UAE and called on other nations around the region and world to step up with their own contributions.

"Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measure of freedom, security, prosperity and dignity, and access to healthcare when you need it is essential to living a life of dignity for all of us,” he said.

“The US will continue to work with the Palestinian leadership, the Israeli officials and all international partners to ensure the East Jerusalem Hospital Network remains sustainable, remains available and is able to provide high quality of care that the Palestinian people deserve.

"Thank you for taking care of all the patients whose lives you made better," he concluded.

Mr Biden said he will seek to revive US ties in a meeting with the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas later on Friday.

Another $201m will go to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, a programme that the US stopped funding under former president Donald Trump, the White House said.

"These new funds bring the total United States assistance to UNRWA during the Biden Administration to more than $618 million," the White House said.

"The United States is committed to supporting UNRWA to provide the most effective and efficient assistance possible and to continue to improve its operations and delivery."

Mr Trump cut off most US government ties with the Palestinian Authority after a series of disputes, including the Palestinian criticism of his decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and the rejection of his administration’s proposed Middle East peace plan.

Mr Biden will also announce technological co-operation between Israeli and Palestinian teams working to build a 4G cellular network in Palestinian territories by the end of 2023.

And in response to rising food insecurity for Palestinians after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the president will announce that the US is providing $15m in additional humanitarian assistance for vulnerable Palestinians.

After visiting the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem on Friday, Mr Biden will travel to Saudi Arabia.

There, he’s scheduled to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 9:47 AM