| 13 April 2024, Saturday |

Biden Pledges $100 Million for Palestinian Hospitals in East Jerusalem

US President Joe Biden on Friday pledged an additional $100 million to support hospitals in East Jerusalem as part of a multiyear commitment aimed at helping Palestinian health services.


Biden made the pledge at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem ahead of a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as he wraps up the first leg of his Middle East trip before leaving for Saudi Arabia.


During his meeting with Abbas, Biden is expected to restate his backing for a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict and will unveil a fresh package of economic and technical assistance for the Palestinians, but there are no expectations of any major political breakthrough.


A senior administration official told Reuters that Biden will not come with a plan to restart the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace process during his visit the West Bank on Friday.


“[There] are practical realities on the ground that we are very mindful of so we have not come in with a top-down plan but we have always said that if the parties are ready to talk, and we think they should, we will be there, right beside them,” the official said.


Before his visit, Palestinian leaders had accused Biden’s administration of prioritizing Israel’s integration into a regional security arrangement with Arab countries above their concerns, including self-determination and continued Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.


On Thursday, as Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced deepening security ties in their so-called “Jerusalem Declaration,” there were protests in the West Bank and Gaza against his visit.


Biden administration officials have rejected Palestinian charges of inaction, pointing to a reversal of the funding cuts and diplomatic freeze imposed by former President Donald Trump.


A two-state solution with an independent Palestinian state sitting alongside the existing state of Israel has long been the favored solution for the international community.


On Thursday, both Biden and Lapid voiced support for the two-state model. But with Israel heading for elections in November and little backing for stopping the expansion of Israeli settlements on West Bank land that Palestinians want for a future state, immediate prospects for agreement appear remote.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat