3rd Thursday Action Alert: Urge Congress to support increased multilateral and bilateral assistance to the Palestinian people
While humanitarian principles require that U.S. assistance to the Palestinian people should not be restricted for political reasons, unfortunately that has not been the case in recent years. From levels of approximately $400 million for bilateral development aid in Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 and almost $400 million that same year for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), US allocations diminished to zero for both types of assistance by FY 2019.
The Biden Administration, with Congress, has taken significant steps to restore, partially, this assistance. For example, the Administration’s FY 2024 budget request for bilateral assistance for the West Bank and Gaza is $225 million. A recent letter, sent by 35 House members to the leadership of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, seeks to increase that level to $259 million. The letter, led by Rep. André Carson (D-IN), also supports increased US assistance to the UNRWA to the FY 2017 level ($359.3 million) as well as other humanitarian aid to meet basic needs in the West Bank and Gaza. The signers also call for financial support for the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network, several members of which are religiously supported, such as the Lutheran World Federation’s Augusta Victoria Hospital, Al-Makassed Islamic Charitable Society Hospital, the Episcopal-affiliated Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre and the Catholic-associated St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The recent 2023 Humanitarian Needs Appeal from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs notes that the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) “… remains a protracted political crisis characterized by 55 years of Israeli military occupation. This crisis is exacerbated by a lack of adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law, internal Palestinian divisions and the recurrent escalation of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups. The results are chronic protection concerns and humanitarian needs which will continue in the absence of a sustainable political solution and opportunities for further development.”
The appeal goes on to note that in 2023 “… approximately 2.1 million Palestinians across the OPT will require some form of humanitarian assistance.” Therefore, US lawmakers should continue to support both multilateral and bilateral humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs, including food, water, health, shelter, protection, education, and livelihoods, and that promote peace and development.
Call on Congress to support increased multilateral and bilateral assistance to the Palestinian people by supporting UNRWA robustly – at least at pre-2016 levels ($390 million) – and to reinstate bilateral assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including financial support for the East Jerusalem Hospitals Network