WASHINGTON – The Biden administration notified Congress this week that it will send millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to the Palestinians aimed at promoting peace with Israel even as violence between the two sides rages.
As the conflict intensifies despite U.S. calls for restraint, the administration notified Congress on Thursday that it will provide $10 million to Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza to support exchange and reconciliation projects with Israelis. The recipients of the aid were not named.
The State Department said Friday that the money is part of more than $100 million that the administration allocated to the Palestinians earlier this year, reversing a near total cutoff in support under former President Donald Trump.
In a notice to lawmakers obtained by The Associated Press, the U.S. Agency for International Development said the $10 million would go to support “people-to-people efforts to bring together conflict-affected groups to address divisions that may be rooted in group differences such as ethnicity, religion, status, class, or political affiliation in areas affected by conflict and civil war.”
It said the money would be spent mainly on cross-border projects between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, but might also include programs for Jews and Arabs living in Israel.
The fighting between the two sides has been intensifying, with rocket attacks from Hamas militants in Gaza on Israel and increasing retaliation from the Israeli military. Violence between Arabs and Jews within Israel has also been increasing.
The Biden administration has made no secret of its belief that Trump’s approach to the Mideast, which alienated the Palestinians, was flawed and made prospects for peace less likely. The administration has announced $130 million in assistance to the Palestinians, which appears aimed at encouraging them to return to negotiations with Israel.