US to restore Palestinian aid, reopen diplomatic missions under Joe Biden's administration
The US has announced that it intends to reopen Palestinian diplomatic missions shuttered by the previous Trump administration and restore aid to Palestinians.
Acting US Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills told the Security Council on Tuesday that Washington wants to move away from former President Donald Trump's hostile policies to the Palestinians.
Mills added that President Joe Biden's administration will restore US assistance programs to Palestinians in order to create a stable environment.
Biden's Middle East policy "will be to support a mutually agreed, two-state solution, in which Israel lives in peace and security, alongside a viable Palestinian state," Mills said.
He added that peace cannot be imposed, saying that diplomatic progress will require mutual consent and cooperation from the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Mills called on Israelis and Palestinians to avoid unilateral action - including annexation, settlement activity, and payments to prisoners - in order to preserve the viability of a two-state solution.
Former US President Donald Trump closed the Palestinian Authority's representative office in Washington and cut off US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in 2018.
This has severely impacted the UN agency’s ability to provide aid and health services to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip in particular.
In November 2020, UNRWA Commissioner-General Phillippe Lazzarini said that the UN body was “on the edge of a cliff”, unable to cover its expenses for the first time in its history.
UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide relief and development services to Palestinian refugees expelled by Israeli forces from their homeland during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific conflict.
Israel has long demanded that UNRWA be dissolved, because the agency's existence draws continued attention to the displacement and hardship of Palestinian refugees.