The United States is renewing its aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and will give $5 million in humanitarian assistance to help hospitals in PA-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria cope with the coronavirus outbreak, Channel 13 News’ Barak Ravid reported on Thursday.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman later confirmed the move in a tweet.
"I'm very pleased the USA is providing $5M for Palestinian hospitals and households to meet immediate, life-saving needs in combating COVID-19. The USA, as the world's top humanitarian aid donor, is committed to assisting the Palestinian people, & others worldwide, in this crisis," he wrote.
Over the last three years, the Trump administration has cut almost all civilian and humanitarian aid to the PA, worth around $500 million per year.
In August of 2018, Trump's administration decided to completely halt its funding for the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” (UNRWA), which had previously stood at around $350 million a year.
Later, it announced it would cut $25 million more in direct aid to six hospitals that primarily serve Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem.
In another move, Washington cut aid to the PA for programs supporting conflict resolution with Israelis.
The only assistance that has continued is to the Palestinian security forces. This is the first time the Trump administration has renewed aid to the PA, noted Ravid.
The financial aid to the PA hospitals comes as part of a larger US foreign assistance package to several countries hit by the coronavirus.
US officials stressed this is a humanitarian move, but the hope in Washington is that this could improve relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority, which have been essentially frozen over the last two and a half years.
The PA has boycotted the US since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017 and has rejected the Administration’s peace plan on the grounds that it is biased in Israel’s favor.
According to Ravid, the aid to the PA was supported by Trump's "peace team," including senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz, as well as Friedman.