Biden administration quietly increasing assistance to Palestinians

Over the last week, US President Joe Biden's administration announced publicly that it would provide US$15 million to Palestinian communities affected by the COVID-19 crisis, and then it also notified Congress that it would provide US$75 million as economic assistance partly to regain Palestinians' "trust and goodwill". The latter tranche of assistance was not publicly announced and is likely to face Republican scrutiny.

The restarting of assistance is a significant reversal in policy from the cuts made by the administration of former President Donald Trump. Under US law, there are restrictions that prevent assistance from flowing to the Palestinian Authority, and the Trump administration cited this as part of its reason for cutting assistance. However, none of the current assistance is being provided to the Palestinian Authority.

A congressional notification affirmed that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will follow the vetting procedures for compliance. This notification was provided hours after the Government Accountability Office criticized USAID's earlier compliance efforts for not adequately vetting indirect recipients.

The notification indicated that the money, which may start flowing as early as April 10, 2021, would contribute to a variety of assistance, including health care, water, sanitation, infrastructure, assistance for Palestinian youth, small businesses, and disaster preparedness. The package will also provide US$5 million for civics groups, which the Biden administration believes will help in restarting peace negotiations. 

News article - Associated Press