Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday that the US would provide $75 million in additional assistance to Palestinians following the 11-day Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Blinken announced the new aid from Ramallah in the West Bank during a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The United States will notify Congress of our intention to provide $75m in additional development and economic assistance to the Palestinians in 2021,” Blinken said. He added that the US will also provide $5.5 million for “immediate disaster assistance” for Gaza and about $32 million for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).
Earlier on Tuesday, Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirmed that the US “fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself.” Blinken said President Biden had a “personal” commitment to Israel. “He has been one of Israel’s most steadfast supporters for the last 50 years,” Blinken said of Biden. After meeting with Blinken, Netanyahu warned that any future rocket fire from Gaza would be met with a “very powerful” Israeli response.
The latest violence was sparked by planned evictions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem. When asked if he got a commitment from Netanyahu or other Israeli leaders not to go through with these evictions, Blinken did not give a clear answer and only said, “I’ll let our partners speak for themselves.”
Before approving new aid for the Palestinians, the State Department approved a $735 million arms sale to Israel. After the Gaza ceasefire was reached last week, President Biden vowed to “replenish” the Iron Dome, one of Israel’s missile-defense systems. The Biden administration stood firmly behind Israel during the Gaza onslaught and failed to condemn Israeli airstrikes that killed Palestinian children.
During his meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials, Blinken stressed the importance of the ceasefire, and said the two sides must ultimately work towards a two-state solution. But Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have made a two-state solution no longer a realistic option, and until settlements are addressed, the crisis will not be solved, and violence will continue.