June 20, 2021

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House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians | TheHill – The Hill

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A large group of House Democrats on Wednesday pressed Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department’s cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to lift his hold on millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians after a brutal war in the Gaza Strip decimated the coastal enclave.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinTrump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians Pelosi floats Democrat-led investigation of Jan. 6 as commission alternative MORE (Md.) led a group of 145 Democrats in calling on Risch to lift his hold on $75 million in aid that was approved under the Trump administration.

“We write with a great sense of urgency to respectfully request that you release your hold on tens of millions of dollars in appropriated humanitarian aid that is so desperately needed to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians rebuilding their lives in the wake of the fighting between Hamas and Israel earlier this month,” the lawmakers wrote.

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“Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe. Buildings lie in rubble. Access to clean water and electricity is sporadic or nonexistent. Food insecurity is spreading. COVID-19 is running rampant and thousands of people have been displaced and rendered homeless. The magnitude of the crisis is staggering.” 

The Biden administration has said the funds will go toward assisting Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grapple with the coronavirus and a flagging economy as well as rebuild from the recent war between Israel and militants in Gaza.

The push for aid from the Democrats comes as a cease-fire reached last month has so far managed to hold. While some Republicans have expressed concerns that aid to Palestinians could make its way to Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, the Democrats said that the money would be tightly monitored. 

“As the ceasefire takes hold, the United States can help relieve the suffering of countless innocent civilians. The assistance aid notified by the State Department is to be provided in full accordance with U.S. law. It is administered and overseen by our government and by trusted and vetted partners on the ground. Secretary [of State] Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenUK warns ‘deadly’ misinformation undermining global vaccination efforts House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians Peru triples official COVID-19 death toll after concerns of undercount MORE has made clear that Hamas and other terrorist groups will not benefit from our humanitarian assistance,” they wrote.

The Hill has reached out to Risch’s office for comment.

President BidenJoe BidenBiden congratulates election of new Israeli president amid agreement to oust Netanyahu Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters ‘Blue’s Clues’ hosts virtual Pride parade with help of former ‘Drag Race’ contestant MORE has already voiced support for delivering aid to both Israel and the Palestinians, saying he intends to replenish funds for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system as well as boost the recovery efforts in Gaza.

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