U.S. ties with Palestinian Authority reaffirmed

President Biden announced a set of initiatives to support the Palestinian people.

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The visit of U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to the Middle East marked a new era for the relationship between the U.S. and the Palestinians. President Biden announced a set of initiatives to support the Palestinian people.

On July 15, U.S. President met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. President Biden reaffirmed the enduring ties between the Palestinian and American peoples and underscored his commitment to a two-state solution on the 1967 lines with land swaps mutually agreed by the Israelis and Palestinians. He also highlighted the importance of direct negotiations leading to an independent, sovereign, viable, and contiguous Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, both enjoying secure and recognized borders, allowing the two peoples to live side-by-side in peace and security.

Initiatives of support

In the meeting, President Biden highlighted several initiatives the United States is undertaking to support the Palestinian people.

In particular, these initiatives envisage to improve access to health care and technology, rolle out long overdue 4G digital connectivity to both Gaza and the West Bank, bolster economic growth, provide critical services for Palestinian refugees, reduce food insecurity, foster people-to-people dialogue to support peace.

President Biden also announced additional contributions totaling $316 million to support the Palestinian people. This is on top of the more than half a billion dollars the United States has provided to the Palestinian people since the Biden Administration restored much needed funding to the Palestinians.

President Biden also discussed encouraging regional governments and the international community to assist the Palestinian people.

Improve Healthcare Access for Palestinians

During his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, the President announced the United States intends to provide a new multi-year U.S. contribution of up to $100 million for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), subject to congressional approval. The EJHN is a grouping of six hospitals in East Jerusalem providing specialized services including oncology, dialysis, neo-natal intensive care, and specialized maternity, ophthalmology, and emergency services to 50,000 patients from East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza annually. The funding is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and paired with health system and hospital reforms.

Digital Economy to Improve Palestinian Economic Growth

To boost Palestinian businesses and improve connectivity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has committed to speeding up the long overdue transformation of 3G to 4G in the West Bank and afterwards 2G to 4G in Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian teams will work together immediately to start the technological surveys and roll out an advanced infrastructure for 4G by the end of 2023. This commitment will accelerate digital transformation and foster a more well-connected Palestinian economy. It will also generate jobs, increase productivity, and increase online operations in the health and education sectors.

Improve the Travel Experience from the West Bank to Jordan

President Biden supports creating a more autonomous, efficient, and reliable Palestinian experience of traveling abroad. He announced that Israel is prepared to take measures to increase efficiency and accessibility to the Allenby Bridge for the benefit of Palestinians. In order to upgrade facilities, Israel has agreed to enable access 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, by September 30, 2022. A working group will assess several measures including the use of biometric passports and will complete its assessments within the next month and discuss conclusions with U.S. partners. In addition, the working group will consider steps to establish the Palestinian Authority’s presence on Allenby Bridge while maintaining Israel’s security considerations.

Support Critical Services for Palestinian Refugees

The United States believes that Palestinian refugees deserve to live in dignity, to see their basic needs addressed, and to have hope for the future. President Biden will announce an additional $201 million for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to continue delivering critical services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.  UNRWA’s comprehensive services remain a lifeline to millions of vulnerable Palestinians – consistent with its mandate to provide assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees pending a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These services directly contribute to maintaining regional stability, which is beneficial to the interests of the United States, its allies, and partners. This contribution cements the United States’ status as UNRWA’s largest donor. These new funds bring the total United States assistance to UNRWA during the Biden Administration to more than $618 million. 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. UNRWA’s work must be done while fully respecting the UN principles of neutrality, tolerance, human rights, equity, and non-discrimination.

Food Security: Support for vulnerable Palestinians

In response to rising food insecurity for Palestinians in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Biden announced that the United States is providing $15 million in additional humanitarian assistance for vulnerable Palestinians. Via funding from the UN World Food Program and two non-governmental organizations, the United States is providing electronic food vouchers, multipurpose cash assistance, and emergency livelihood support, helping more than 210,000 food-insecure people meet their household food needs in the coming months. This funding is part of the pledge of additional U.S. government resources that President Biden made at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany in late June to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis.

The Palestinians deserve lives of dignity and opportunity

The leaders reaffirmed that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy. President Biden emphasized his belief that the Palestinian people deserve to live lives of dignity and opportunity; to move and travel freely; to feel secure in their communities, and to give hope to their children that they will one day enjoy the same freedom and self-determination as their neighbors.

President Biden reiterated the importance of fostering a political horizon and noted the United States stands ready to work with Israelis, Palestinians, and regional stakeholders toward that goal. As he had relayed to Israeli leaders, President Biden conveyed to President Abbas that in order to create the conditions for negotiations, it was important for both parties to avoid unilateral measures.

Israel intends to convene the Joint Economic Committee with the Palestinians.  Restarting discussions through the Joint Economic Committee has been a longstanding request of the Palestinian Authority.  The committee last met in 2009 and is the mandated entity under the Oslo Accords for the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority to meet to discuss joint economic issues, including wastewater, clean energy, and other measures that impact Palestinian lives in the West Bank.

President Biden also announced that Israel agreed to increase the number of permits for Palestinians in Gaza to work and do business in Israel to 15,500.  The Biden Administration strongly supports increased access and movement for Palestinians, and this is a positive step toward that goal.  Additionally, Israel agreed to approve the registration of 5,500 previously unregistered Palestinians on the Palestinian Population Register.

Fostering People-to-People Ties

To build grassroots support for peace through an eventual negotiated two-state solution, President Biden will announce two new grants under the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA).

MEPPA authorizes up to $250 million dollars over five years to implement projects led by both Israelis and Palestinians establishing the environment necessary to achieve long term peace.

The first new grant, for $2.21 million to the Peres Center for Peace, will support collaboration and professional exchanges between the Palestinian and Israeli health sectors as they work to build mutual trust, confidence, and understanding between the two societies.

The second new grant, for $5 million to AppleSeeds, will provide young Palestinian and Israeli professionals the opportunity to work together and learn critical technology and leadership.

President Biden reiterated the U.S. position that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that it continues to be the policy of the United States that the specific boundaries of sovereignty in Jerusalem must be resolved through final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He further reaffirmed the need to preserve the historic status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem, recognizing the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’s crucial role as custodian.


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