Democrats call on Pompeo to restore funding to Gaza

Democrats call on Pompeo to restore funding to Gaza
© SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images

A group of House Democrats is calling on the Trump administration to restore U.S. assistance to Gaza, arguing Palestinians are facing a humanitarian crisis.

In a letter spearheaded by Reps. Mark PocanMark William PocanOvernight Defense: Nearly 500 former national security officials formally back Biden | 40 groups call on House panel to investigate Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds 40 groups call on House panel to investigate Pentagon's use of coronavirus funds Overnight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers MORE (Wis.) and Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Races heat up for House leadership posts MORE (Mich.), 31 Democrats requested Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoWatchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump Trump's push for win with Sudan amps up pressure on Congress  Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize MORE take “immediate action” to restore funding.

“We write to request that the administration take immediate action to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza — and that you pursue a solution to the blockade policy that has contributed to this humanitarian and security crisis,” the lawmakers wrote in Wednesday's letter.

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“As we enter the new year, the continued deterioration of water and electrical infrastructure, medical systems, and other basic economic and social services bring Gaza closer to complete collapse.”

The U.S. Agency for International Development halted its assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, a U.S. official told Reuters earlier this month.

Democrats blasted the funding cuts on Wednesday, arguing they have put a strain on the United Nations and aid groups looking to provide “access to water, food, employment, and healthcare."

“This immediate crisis can be avoided with a resumption of bilateral U.S. assistance to Gaza as well as funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency."

Trump's Middle East peace plan — announced in January and swiftly rejected by Palestinian leaders — offers an investment of $50 billion in the Palestinian territories. Yet the money can only be delivered after the Palestinian Authority reaches key requirements for recognition of statehood, including demilitarizing the Gaza Strip from Hamas and forgoing all claims of refugee status — an estimated $300 billion.

The lawmakers also criticized Israel in their letter to Pompeo.

“While Hamas bears some measure of responsibility for the deteriorating situation, Israel’s continuing control of Gaza’s air, sea and borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, make the humanitarian situation worse and contribute to continued instability," they wrote.