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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 WarrenCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats have turned solidly against gas tax Overnight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Democrats face new pressure to raise taxes MORE (D-Md.) on Monday asked Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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 LeahyShelby signals GOP can accept Biden's .5T with more for defense Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua Biden budget expands government's role in economy MORE (D-Vt.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay MORE (I-Vt.), Tom UdallTom UdallSenate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin Study: Chemical used in paint thinners caused more deaths than EPA identified Oregon senator takes center stage in Democratic filibuster debate MORE (D-N.M.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyDemocrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' Joe Manchin keeps Democrats guessing on sweeping election bill MORE (D-Ore.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenate confirms Radhika Fox to lead EPA's water office Rick Scott threatens to delay national security nominees until Biden visits border Senate panel unanimously advances key Biden cyber nominees MORE (D-Del.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal How Biden can get the infrastructure bill through Congress Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' MORE (D-Ohio).