Congressional Republicans are blocking the Biden administration from sending approximately $75 million in aid to Palestinians through the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
Senator James Risch (R-ID) and Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the ranking members of their respective committees on foreign affairs, put a hold on the notification for USAID on the reinstated funding that was eliminated by the Trump administration. The aid will be delayed but is expected to eventually go through.
The $75 million is part of the $235 in aid the Biden administration announced on Wednesday. Risch and McCaul have not commented on their efforts to block the aid, but they did put out a statement denouncing Biden’s decision to resume assistance to the Palestinians.
“Resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza without concessions from the Palestinian Authority (PA) undermines US interests. The PA is spending millions annually to compensate terrorists while the international community pays for the well-being of the Palestinian people,” the lawmakers said.
The idea that the PA is paying “terrorists” is unfounded but is a common talking point of critics of providing aid to the Palestinians. Israel slammed Biden’s decision to resume aid, specifically the funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
UNRWA provides assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Israel claims the agency is “anti-Semitic” and a threat to the Jewish state. “Israel strongly opposes renewing funding for @UNRWA, an anti-Semitic agency that incites against Israel and uses a twisted definition of who is a ‘refugee,’” Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the US, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.