Restoring aid to Palestine was one of President Biden’s campaign promises, and he just made a large move in that direction.
In 2018, then-President Trump chose to recognize Israeli-held Jerusalem as the capital of Israel-Palestine, and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv, where it had been since Palestine was by the United Nations partition plan in 1947. Trump called it “a long-overdue step to advance the peace process.”
While 800 dignitaries (none of them Palestinian) were wined and dined in the opening ceremony of the new embassy, Israeli soldiers faced with rifles and tanks faced off against Palestinian protesters, a few of which held rocks. 60 Palestinians died and thousands were injured. No Israelis were reported injured.
In the wake of this, Palestinian leaders chose to boycott the Trump administration’s “peace process.” They felt that the move was a trap, intended to force them to negotiate with the Israeli government without any acknowledgment of Palestinian legitimacy.
“If you don’t have Palestinian involvement, you don’t have a peace process. It’s as simple as that,” said Khaled Elgindy, part of a Washington D.C. think tank on the matter. Restoring aid, he implied, would go a long way toward bringing them back to the table.
In response, President Trump cut off American funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides aid to the approximately 5.7 million Palestinians who have been displaced by Israeli expansion, and blocked all other aid paths between the United States and Palestine. Many called the move a hostage-taking gambit, making Palestine’s most desperate the victims of every political move.
On Wednesday, April 7th, the Biden administration announced that it would be restoring aid to Palestine, providing $235 million for Palestinian refugees and other necessary relief efforts. According to Biden’s aides, this is a first, cautious step toward re-establishing peace negotiations between the two states over the future of the contested nation. Any further steps will have to wait until after Israel’s current contested election situation has been resolved. Palestine, too, has elections coming this summer.
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