Washington D.C., Apr 17, 2019 / 14:01 pm
Catholic Relief Services was among 18 organizations that have welcomed the introduction of a Senate Resolution calling on the Trump administration to disburse humanitarian aid already provided by Congress for residents of the West Bank and Gaza.
“U.S. assistance to the region has been withheld for over 15 months. The administration froze all bilateral foreign assistance benefiting Palestinians, pending an administrative review of these programs,” CRS said April 17.
It noted that the review is ongoing, with “no clear criteria or timeline.”
“Meanwhile, more than half the people in Gaza now live in poverty, and hopelessness and instability increase every day.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced Senate Resolution 171 April 16. The Senate would resolve that the executive branch should expend, within fiscal year 2019, the $257.5m that Congress appropriated in 2018 for bilateral assistance to the West Bank and Gaza.
The funds would go to economic support – focused on food, essential health services, and other humanitarian goods and services; narcotics control and law enforcement; and non-proliferation, anti-terrorism, and demining programs.
The resolution notes that the State Department also failed to expend the $302.8m appropriated by Congress in 2017 for assistance to Palestine.
CRS said the resolution addresses the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, passed in 2018, which it said “has made it more difficult to provide U.S. funding to alleviate suffering in the region.