UPDATE 5:45 PM ET: Pres. Obama pledged $400 million in
U.S. aid for the West Bank and Gaza today following a meeting with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the White House, the
aid will be used to build housing and schools. In a statement, the
White House said, the “projects represent a down payment on the United
States’ commitment to Palestinians in Gaza, who deserve a better life
and expanded opportunities, and the
chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of
Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank.”
It’s still unclear however, how the aid will be distributed as long as Israel’s blockade of Gaza remains in place. Additional questions about implementation are raised because the funds would be administered by Abbas whose party governs only the West Bank, not Gaza, where Hamas is the governing party.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives at the White House today for a meeting with President Obama that’s not likely to alter the core problems for the administration’s policy on Gaza. As international calls for Israel to end its blockade of Gaza grow, the United States continues to refuse to either outright condemn the Israeli raid on a humanitarian flotilla headed to Gaza or call for an end to the blockade, which has deprived Gaza residents of basic goods for three years.
An Obama administration official told the AP that Obama and Abbas will “discuss steps to improve life for the people of Gaza, including U.S. support for specific projects to promote economic development and greater quality of life.” But it’s unclear exactly how this will be possible if the Israeli blockade remains intact.