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Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories

Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories
© Greg Nash

A group of Democratic senators led by Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Democratic strategists start women-run media consulting firm Becerra says he wants to 'build on' ObamaCare when pressed on Medicare for All MORE (D-Mass.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenMenendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill LIVE COVERAGE: Senate set to consider Garland for AG Plaskett quips male lawmakers 'would not have their wives in one attempt talking to her' during impeachment trial MORE (D-Md.) on Monday asked Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help Trump to reemerge on political scene at CPAC China labels human rights criticism 'groundless' MORE to ensure the Gaza Strip and the West Bank receive any necessary aid to combat the coronavirus pandemic in a letter.

In the letter, the senators note that at least 50 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the West Bank and two in the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority has declared a state of emergency and established a joint operations room with the Israeli government.

“Gaza, with a population of approximately 1.8 million people and one of the most densely populated areas of the world, has a weak public health system, and has been subject to a blockade and border restrictions since 2007,” the senators wrote, noting that an estimated 38 percent of residents live in poverty and about a third of essential medications are unavailable.

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“Altogether, these conditions, if compounded by a COVID-19 outbreak in the region, would further endanger the health of Palestinians in the coastal enclave,” the letter states, noting that in 2018 the Trump administration froze nearly all bilateral aid to the Palestinians and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees.

“Given the spread of the coronavirus in the West Bank and Gaza, the extreme vulnerability of the health system in Gaza, and the continued withholding of U.S. aid to the Palestinian people, we are concerned that the Administration is failing to take every reasonable step to help combat this public health emergency in the Palestinian Territories,” the letter adds.

Warren and Van Hollen asked for further details on how the administration plans to obligate the $75 million in Palestinian aid mandated by appropriations for fiscal 2020, as well as how many medical facilities in the Palestinian territories are equipped to treat coronavirus patients and what steps the State Department is taking to coordinate with U.N. agencies and foreign governments.

Warren and Van Hollen were joined on the letter by Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPress: The big loser: The Republican Party Senate acquits Trump in 57-43 vote Trump lawyer irked after senators laugh at him MORE (D-Vt.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersHouse Democrats to keep minimum wage hike in COVID-19 relief bill for Friday vote Sanders slams parliamentarian decision on minimum wage Parliamentarian nixes minimum wage hike in coronavirus bill MORE (I-Vt.), Tom UdallTom UdallOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Haaland courts moderates during tense confirmation hearing | GOP's Westerman looks to take on Democrats on climate change | White House urges passage of House public lands package Udalls: Haaland criticism motivated 'by something other than her record' Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (D-N.M.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyEx-Capitol Police chief did not get FBI report warning of violence on Jan. 6 Democrats want businesses to help get LGBT bill across finish line Democrats revive debate over calling impeachment witnesses MORE (D-Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTexas snowstorm wreaks havoc on state power grid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump trial MORE (D-Del.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid MORE (D-Ohio).