Churches for Middle East Peace Laud US Restoration of Aid to Palestinian Refugees

Churches for Middle East Peace Laud US Restoration of Aid to Palestinian Refugees

In this Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 file photograph, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden gestures during a foreign policy statement in New York. (AP)

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomed the announcement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 7 that the Biden Administration will soon restart economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in a manner fully consistent with current US law.

CMEP strongly opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to suspend all bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

CMEP has pushed the Biden Administration to resume this much-needed assistance as soon as possible, reported Palestinian news agency WAFA.

After a complete cut off of assistance to the Palestinians, the distribution of funds including $75 million to support humanitarian and development assistance, the $10 million for peacebuilding programs through USAID, and $150 million for UNRWA, “is a welcome first step in addressing the considerable deterioration in the US relationship with Palestinians over the past four years,” said a CMEP press release published on Thursday.

Kyle Cristofalo, CMEP’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations said: “We are grateful to the Biden Administration for acknowledging the critical services provided by UNRWA and the humanitarian programs operating in the West Bank and Gaza. Yesterday’s actions are consistent with longstanding U.S. support—both in Congress and the White House—for bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza and to UNRWA.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for humanitarian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. These funds provide vitally needed support to meet immediate humanitarian and medical needs in the occupied Palestinian territories. And yet they are only a first step, said CMEP., which called on the Biden Administration “follow up these actions by continuing to rebuild diplomatic relationships with the Palestinians, by reopening the Consulate General in East Jerusalem, and by working with Congress to find a way to reopen the PLO Representative Office in Washington, D.C.”

Additionally, in the face of impending demolitions in East Jerusalem, CMEP called on the Biden Administration to make clear the US will not allow unilateral actions such as demolitions and expansion of settlements to move forward without tangible consequences.

Formed in 1984, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a coalition of 30 national church communions and organizations, including Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Evangelical traditions that works to encourage US policies that actively promote a comprehensive resolution to conflicts in the Middle East with a focus on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. CMEP works to mobilize US Christians to embrace a holistic perspective and to be advocates of equality, human rights, security, and justice for Israelis, Palestinians, and all people of the Middle East.

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