Eight senior United States senators urged the US Administration to provide assistance to the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza to help them overcome coronavirus pandemic.
“President Trump recently offered assistance to other countries fighting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic, including North Korea and Iran. This principle of providing humanitarian aid to those in need should also apply to the Palestinian people,” said the senators in their letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We write to urge the Administration to take every reasonable step to provide medicine, medical equipment, and other necessary assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip (Palestinian Territories) to prevent a humanitarian disaster.”
The senators said that as coronavirus spreads in the Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated areas of the world and blockaded by Israel since 2007, a coronavirus outbreak in the region would further endanger the health of Palestinians.
They said that with the cut in US aid to the Palestinians since January 2018, particularly to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), “which supports the basic health care needs of millions of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, and surrounding countries,” and as “COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented health, diplomatic, and economic threat, and it is in the national security interest of the United States and in the interest of the Palestinian people and our ally Israel,” to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the Palestinian Territories, “we are concerned that the Administration is failing to take every reasonable step to help combat this public health emergency in the Palestinian Territories.”
The senators demanded answers to several questions by April 3 that have to do with steps the US Administration is taking or planning to take to provide assistance to the Palestinian people and “when does the Administration plan to obligate $75 million in Economic Support Funds for assistance for the Palestinians as mandated by the FY 2020 Appropriations Act?”
The letter was signed by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen, Patrick Leahy, Tom Udall, Thomas R. Carper, Bernard Sanders, Jeffrey A. Merkley, Thomas R. Carper and Sherrod Brown.