Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Representing Maryknoll Fathers & Brothers, Maryknoll Sisters, and Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Updates on Israel-Palestine

Pres. Biden reinstates U.S. funding for aid to Palestinian refugees and U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum introduces a new bill to protect the rights of Palestinian children and families.This article was published in the May-June 2021 issue of NewsNotes.

On April 8, 2021, Churches for Middle Peace (CMEP) released the following statement on President Biden’s decision to reinstate U.S. funding for UNRWA, the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees.  The Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is a member of CMEP.

“Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) welcomes the announcement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on April 7th that the Biden Administration will soon restart economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians in a manner fully consistent with current U.S. law. CMEP strongly opposed the Trump Administration’s decision to suspend all bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza and  the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). CMEP has pushed the Biden Administration to resume this much-needed assistance as soon as possible. After a complete cut off of assistance to the Palestinians, the distribution of funds including $75 million to support humanitarian and development assistance, the $10 million for peacebuilding programs through USAID, and $150 million for UNRWA, is a welcome first step in addressing the considerable deterioration in the U.S. relationship with Palestinians over the past four years.

“Kyle Cristofalo, CMEP’s Senior Director of Advocacy and Government Relations said: ‘We are grateful to the Biden Administration for acknowledging the critical services provided by UNRWA and the humanitarian programs operating in the West Bank and Gaza. Yesterday’s actions are consistent with longstanding U.S. support—both in Congress and the White House—for bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza and to UNRWA.’

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for humanitarian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. These funds provide vitally needed support to meet immediate humanitarian and medical needs in the occupied Palestinian territories. And yet they are only a first step. The Biden Administration must follow up these actions by continuing to rebuild diplomatic relationships with the Palestinians, by reopening the Consulate General in East Jerusalem, and by working with Congress to find a way to reopen the PLO Representative Office in Washington, D.C. Additionally, in the face of impending demolitions in East Jerusalem, CMEP calls on the Biden Administration to make clear the U.S. will not allow unilateral actions such as demolitions and expansion of settlements to move forward without tangible consequences.”

Faith in action: Ask your Member of Congress to support a bill introduced by Rep. Betty McCollum that seeks to protect Palestinian children in Israeili military detention and oppose land annexation:

Israel Palestine Recommended News Articles

“End U.S. Support for Israeli Apartheid?” Conference:

Washington Report on Middle Affairs offers recording of speakers at the two sessions of their virtual conference held April 17 and 21, 2021, available on their website. The major Israeli human rights organization has declared that apartheid is rampant both inside Israel and in the territories Israel occupies. The web-based conference considered whether the United States should now cut off aid to Israel or make any such future assistance conditional on negotiation of a genuine peace settlement, respect for Palestinian human rights, and adherence to international law.

“On the occasion of Land Day, Israel forcibly laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of historical Palestine:”

Palestine News and Info Agency reported on March 30, 2021, that “Israel, since 1948, laid hand over more than 85% of the total area of the lands of historical Palestine at a time when Jews in the era of the pre-1948 British Mandate exploited only 1,682 square kilometers, or 6.2% of the lands of historical Palestine, today said the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) on the 45th anniversary of Land Day.”

“Israel's military courts for Palestinians are a stain on international justice:”

Sahar Francis writes in The Guardian that “the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the West Bank were born into, and have spent their entire lives under, an Israeli military occupation that violates their right to self-determination. A new report by the UK charity War on Want exposes how a core part of what sustains that occupation is a military judicial system characterized by violations of international law. The report – Judge, Jury and Occupier – is a deep dive into the diverse ways in which Palestinians’ rights are being violated – from arrest, through interrogation, conviction and jail time.