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Tlaib, Lowenthal pen op-ed asking Trump administration to release aid to Palestinians to fight COVID-19

Tlaib, Lowenthal pen op-ed asking Trump administration to release aid to Palestinians to fight COVID-19
© Aaron Schwartz

Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP congresswoman-elect wants to form Republican 'Squad' called 'The Force' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations MORE (D-Mich.) and Alan LowenthalAlan Stuart LowenthalProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill MORE (D-Calif.) wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Saturday  asking for President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE to release congressionally approved aid to Palestine to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

"The Palestinian people are particularly vulnerable at this moment," Tlaib and Lowenthal wrote, citing a decision by President Trump in 2018 to eliminate funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The UNRWA provides humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees.  According to the article, the held-up aid adds up to $75 million that was "appropriated with bipartisan support by Congress."

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"While covid-19 does not recognize borders, we must recognize that without aid and assistance, the Palestinian people will be greatly affected by this health crisis," Tlaib and Lowenthal wrote.

The two asserted that division and nationalism has "undermined" the global response to the pandemic, and by witholding funding to international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and certain groups of people, "the Trump administration has pursued counterproductive policies that make the world less safe," they said. 

Last month, Trump announced that the United States would halt funding to the WHO pending an investigation for what he deemed to be a mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak.

The president also criticized  the health body for opposing large-scale travel restrictions, and maintained that the U.S. had been treated unfairly. The president noted the difference in the amount funding the organization receives from America in comparison to China. 

Health officials, world leaders and congressional lawmakers criticized Trump following the move. Former secretary of State Madeline Albright most recently asserted that Trump's "America First" policy has hampered the U.S.'s response to the pandemic. 

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In addition to releasing the congressionally approved aid, the members of Congress want Trump to "restore the U.S. relationship with UNRWA."

"International cooperation, American moral leadership and genuine concern for human rights and the health and safety of the some of the most vulnerable people on earth are nonnegotiable," the pair concluded.

At the beginning of the year, Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE at the White House.

Democrats staunchly pushed back against the plan, with over 100 House Democrats writing to the president in disapproval.