US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi to ensure humtarian assistance to Palestinians and further normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
"The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed regional security challenges, humtarian assistance to the Palestinian people, and the normalization of relations with Arab and Muslim majority countries," Price said in a statement on Friday, reported Sputnik.
The Joe Biden administration has allocated 15 million US dollars (USD) to aid the Palestinians in fighting COVID-19 and considers resuming full-scale assistance effectively suspended during Donald Trump's presidency.
"The Secretary emphasized the Administration's belief that Israelis and Palestinians should enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity, and democracy," Price said.
US President Biden's administration is looking for ways to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and urges both sides to refrain from unilateral moves.Blinken also reiterated the United States' strong commitment to Israel's security, Price said, as reported by Sputnik.
During his term of office, President Trump deprived the Palestinian Authority (PA) of financial aid amounting to about half-a-billion USD annually, exercising pressure on it to accept his two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which gave only 70 per cent of the West Bank to a Palestinian entity and a negligible part on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
Furthermore, he successfully isolated the Palestinians from some of their rich Arab allies, who in the past offered millions of dollars to the PA.
Currently, at a time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the PA is in a desperate situation, facing a severe fiscal crisis, as it is deprived of US and Arab aid and at the same time stares at a sharp drop in tourist income. Furthermore, Trump had closed PLO's Washington Office and the US Consulate General in East Jerusalem, while the PA cut security coordination with Israel.
The PA sees the election of Joe Biden as a way out of the severe fiscal and political crisis and will curb the expansion of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands.
US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has said that the Biden administration would "take immediate steps to restore economic and humtarian assistance" to the Palestinians, in addition to reopening the US consulate in East Jerusalem and the Palestinian mission in Washington.
( With inputs from ANI )
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