US signals Palestinian rapprochement with Covid funding

Biden administration seeks to reset relations with the Palestinians damaged in the Trump era

(FILES) In this file photo US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and President of the Security Council speaks during a press conference for the Security Council programme of work in March at the UN Headquarters in New York on March 1, 2021. The moment has come for "inclusive, representative" government in Sudan, the US ambassador to the UN said on March 9, 2021, calling for "comprehensive and sustainable peace" in the African nation. Six months after the Juba peace agreement between the civilian-led transitional government and rebel groups was signed, "the Sudanese people have not seen the commitment and engagement by signatory parties necessary for progress," Linda Thomas-Greenfield said during a United Nations Security Council videoconference.   / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY

The US on Thursday pledged $15 million to help feed Palestinians ravaged by Covid-19 in a sign that the Biden administration is looking to repair US-Palestinian relations, which were damaged in the Trump era.

Washington’s envoy to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said the cash would help the charity Catholic Relief Services feed the “most vulnerable” people in the West Bank and Gaza, where Covid-19 has weakened strained health services.

“President [Joe] Biden is restoring US assistance programmes that support economic development and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people,” Ms Thomas-Greenfield told the UN Security Council on Thursday.

“This assistance will support emergency food assistance, programming to communities facing food insecurity, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Her comments came as Mr Biden's officials seek to reset ties with the Palestinians. Relations collapsed under a Trump administration that repeatedly sided with Israel to the detriment of Palestinians.

The National this month published details from a US government memo called The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward on plans for Covid-19 cash assistance and rollbacks of pro-Israel Trump administration positions.

The Trump administration cut funding to Palestinians, recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy to the city, despite objections from the Palestinians, who seek their own state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

“This urgent necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people,” said Ms Thomas-Greenfield.

“The aid will help ... Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The Palestinians seek an independent state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, all territory captured by Israel in 1967. The Biden administration has reaffirmed the US commitment to a two-state solution.

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