(July 15, 2022 / JNS)
- Improving access to health care and technology;
- Rolling out long overdue 4G digital connectivity to the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
- Bolstering economic growth;
- Providing critical services for Palestinian refugees;
- Reducing food insecurity;
- Fostering people-to-people dialogue to support peace.
Biden will also announce new contributions totaling $316 million to support the Palestinian people. This is on top of the more than half a billion dollars the United States has provided to the Palestinian people since the Biden administration restored much-needed funding to the Palestinians.
Improve Health-Care Access for Palestinians
- During his visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, the president will announce the United States intends to provide a new multi-year U.S. contribution of up to $100 million for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network (EJHN), subject to congressional approval. The EJHN is a grouping of six hospitals in East Jerusalem providing specialized services including oncology, dialysis, neonatal intensive care and specialized maternity, ophthalmology and emergency services to 50,000 patients from East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza annually. The funding is provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and paired with health system and hospital reforms.
Bolstering the Digital Economy to Improve Palestinian Economic Growth
- To boost Palestinian businesses and improve connectivity for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel has committed to speeding up the long overdue transformation of 3G to 4G in the West Bank, and afterwards, 2G to 4G in Gaza. Israeli and Palestinian teams will work together immediately to start the technological surveys, with an aim to roll out an advanced infrastructure for 4G by the end of 2023. This commitment will accelerate digital transformation and foster a more well-connected Palestinian economy. It will also generate jobs, increase productivity and increase online operations in the health and education sectors.
Improve the Travel Experience From the West Bank to Jordan
- Biden supports creating a more autonomous, efficient and reliable Palestinian experience of traveling abroad. He will announce that Israel is prepared to take measures to increase efficiency and accessibility to the Allenby Bridge for the benefit of Palestinians. In order to upgrade facilities, Israel has agreed to enable access 24 hours per day, seven days per week, by Sept. 30. A working group will assess several measures including the use of biometric passports and will complete its assessments within the next month and discuss conclusions with U.S. partners. In addition, the working group will consider steps to establish a Palestinian Authority presence on Allenby Bridge while maintaining Israel’s security considerations.
Support Critical Services for Palestinian Refugees
- The United States believes that Palestinian refugees deserve to live in dignity, to see their basic needs addressed and to have hope for the future. Biden will announce an additional $201 million for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to continue delivering critical services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA’s comprehensive services remain a lifeline to millions of vulnerable Palestinians, consistent with its mandate to provide assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees pending a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These services directly contribute to maintaining regional stability, which is beneficial to the interests of the United States, our allies and our partners. This contribution cements America’s status as UNRWA’s largest donor. These new funds bring the total U.S. assistance to UNRWA during the Biden administration to more than $618 million. The United States is committed to supporting UNRWA to provide the most effective and efficient assistance possible and to continue to improve its operations and delivery. UNRWA’s work must be done while fully respecting the U.N. principles of neutrality, tolerance, human rights, equity and non-discrimination.
Relaunching Israeli-Palestinian Economic Discussions and Promoting Steps to Improve Lives
- Biden will share with Abbas that Israel intends to convene the Joint Economic Committee with the Palestinians. Restarting discussions through the Joint Economic Committee has been a longstanding request of the Palestinian Authority. The committee last met in 2009 and is the mandated entity under the Oslo Accords for the Israeli government and Palestinian Authority to meet to discuss joint economic issues, including wastewater, clean energy and other measures that impact Palestinian lives in the West Bank. Biden also announced that Israel agreed to increase the number of permits for Palestinians in Gaza to work and do business in Israel to 15,500. The Biden administration strongly supports increased access and movement for Palestinians, and this is a positive step towards that goal. Additionally, Israel agreed to approve the registration of 5,500 previously unregistered Palestinians on the Palestinian Population Register.
Ensure Food Security for Palestinians
- In response to rising food insecurity for Palestinians in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden will announce that the United States is providing $15 million in additional humanitarian assistance for vulnerable Palestinians. Via funding to the U.N. World Food Program and two non-governmental organizations, the United States is providing electronic food vouchers, multipurpose cash assistance and emergency livelihoods support, helping more than 210,000 food-insecure people meet their household food needs in the coming months. This funding is part of the pledge of additional U.S. government resources that Biden made at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Germany in late June to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food-security crisis.
Fostering People-to-People Ties
- To build grassroots support for peace through an eventual negotiated two-state solution, Biden will announce two new grants under the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA). MEPPA authorizes up to $250 million over five years to implement projects led by both Israelis and Palestinians establishing the environment necessary to achieve long-term peace. The first new grant, for $2.21 million to the Peres Center for Peace, will support collaboration and professional exchanges between the Palestinian and Israeli health sectors as they work to build mutual trust, confidence and understanding between the two societies. The second new grant, for $5 million to AppleSeeds, will provide young Palestinian and Israeli professionals the opportunity to work together and learn critical technology and leadership. For more information on activities under MEPPA, click here.
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