In a quiet move bypassing Republican obstructionism, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has approved the release of $75 million in crucial food assistance for Palestinians just hours before the funds were set to be redistributed elsewhere.
Blinken’s decision came after months of pressure from Democratic lawmakers and dozens of civil society groups, who warned that blocking the aid would create a humanitarian disaster for over one million Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
The aid had been held up by Republican Senators who are said to be seeking to use the funds as leverage for political concessions. Senator Jim Risch and Representative Michael McCaul, the top Republicans on the Senate and House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committees, have since late July been blocking the State Department from providing the funds to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency (UNRWA).
UNRWA has been a frequent target of Republicans. After he assumed office, President Joe Biden reversed ex-President Donald Trump’s efforts to squeeze off funding to the UN agency and Palestinians generally.