Joe Biden Seeks $75 Million From Congress to Aid Palestinians

The Biden administration will seek $75 million this year in "additional development and economic assistance" to Palestinians as tensions continue to escalate in the Middle East.

During an appearance in Ramallah in the West Bank, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Tuesday that $5.5 million would go toward emergency disaster relief in Gaza and $32 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

That's on top of millions more in aid to help Palestinians.

"In total, we are in the process of providing more than $360 million of urgent support for the Palestinian people, and across these efforts, we will work with partners to ensure that Hamas does not benefit from these reconstruction efforts," Blinken said.

A State Department spokesperson told Newsweek that money includes nearly $33 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in support of its West Bank and Gaza emergency operations, and an additional $5.5 million in humanitarian assistance provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"We are in the process of providing more than $360 million in urgent support for the Palestinian people," the spokesperson, who could only speak on background, told Newsweek.

The assistance announced Tuesday is in addition to the more than $250 million in economic, development, security, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people announced in March and April.

"U.S. assistance will focus on addressing the underlying tensions between Israeli and Palestinian communities," the spokesperson said.

The U.S. is also calling on "other donors to support recovery efforts in Gaza, and programs and activities that work toward a common goal of stability and progress for Israelis and Palestinians alike."

"U.S. foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values," the spokesperson said. "It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability."

The State Department and USAID are planning to give $75 million in additional development and economic assistance over the next year to support continued relief and recovery in Gaza.

Israel and Hamas militants engaged in a nearly two-week long fight over tensions in the region in recent days, with bombs blasting both areas. President Joe Biden quickly called for a cease-fire to the latest eruption of violence.

Antony Blinken Announces Palestine Aid
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with civil society leaders, on May 25, 2021, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Alex Brandon / POOL/Getty Images