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Conservatives, pro-Israel groups express opposition to Biden admin’s Palestine aid

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The United States plans to restore over $200 million in aid to Palestinians, after large funding cuts made under the Trump administration.

“[We] plan to restart U.S. economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Wednesday.

Included in that aid is $75 million in economic and development assistance for the West Bank and Gaza and $150 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a U.N. agency that supports over five million Palestinian refugees throughout the region.

While the move garnered support from various Western allies of the U.S. and pro-Palestine advocates, Israel along with many conservative and pro-Israel groups and individuals have expressed staunch opposition to the decision.

“We believe that this UN agency for so-called refugees should not exist in its current format,” said Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N.

“I am deeply troubled by recent decisions from the Biden Administration to turn a blind eye to behavior by the Palestinian Authority,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) said in a statement.

The senator also criticized the move to give money to UNRWA, which he said “does little more than subsidize a corrupt regime and a status quo in the West Bank and in Jordan” when it comes to the Palestinians and that it “has been historically antagonistic to Israel and an impediment to peace.”

“Mr. Secretary, I support aid to Palestinians but your decision to give $150 million to UNRWA without any conditions is a mistake,” international human rights activist and lawyer Hillel Neuer tweeted in response to Blinken. “Even the Swiss foreign minister said: ‘UNRWA has become part of the problem. By supporting UNRWA, we keep the conflict alive. It’s a perverse logic.'”

“I’m sure Hamas and the PA dictators are also only more than ‘pleased’,” tweeted Arsen Ostrovsky, another lawyer and political analyst who deals with international human rights.

“How will you and @POTUS ensure this money will not be spent to reward the murders of Jews with lifelong salaries?” StopAntisemitism.org tweeted.

“How will you ensure that the money goes to humanitarian assistance & not terrorism and incitement? What protocols do you have in place for this especially knowing the money has been misused for decades? What will you do to reduce the number of refugees instead of adding to it?” tweeted Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll, an activist who has written for various Israeli outlets such as The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.

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CIA director meets with Israeli PM to arouse regional support following drone attack

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By Jenny Goldsberry

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns visited Israel Wednesday in an effort to rally regional support amidst attacks from Iran. Burns discussed possibilities for regional cooperation with Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Late July, drones struck an Israeli tanker off the coast of Oman. As a result, two crew members died. Since then, the United States blamed Tehran for the attack. Iranian officials deny their involvement.

At the time, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was noticing a disturbing pattern. “We feel it follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior,” Psaki said. “And these actions also threaten freedom of navigation through crucial waterways — something that is posing a risk to a range of countries around the world.”
 
Therefore, the press secretary suggested that countries get involved. “You know, I would also note that we know our British partners have called for action, called for steps in a coordinated way from international bodies, including the United Nations, which we would certainly support,” Psaki said. Now, Burns’ visit symbolizes the United State following through on the White House’s comments.

According to a statement from Burns’ office, he met with Bennett after meeting with the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligency agency David Barnea. Burns met the Israeli leader in Tel-Aviv. “They discussed the situation in the Middle East, with emphasis on Iran, and possibilities for expanding and deepening regional cooperation,” the statement read.

Next, Burns will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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