Scoop: Biden to announce $100 million for Palestinian hospitals on Middle East trip
President Biden will announce $100 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem during his visit to the Middle East this week, five Israeli officials tell Axios.
Why it matters: The Biden administration sees the funding pledge as its main deliverable to the Palestinians during the visit. Biden is expected to visit one of the hospitals, Augusta Victoria Hospital, during his trip.
- The Biden administration asked Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar to match the U.S. aid to the hospitals, two sources with direct knowledge say.
- The UAE announced a $25 million donation to the Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem on Saturday. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have yet to give the Biden administration any specific commitments.
- The Biden administration also asked Israel to provide funding for the hospitals, two Israeli officials say, but Israel has yet to give an answer.
Between the lines: The U.S. request to the three Gulf countries was part of an attempt to get them more involved in the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
- Both the Saudis and Emiratis have poor relations with the Palestinian Authority.
- The Biden administration hopes that will start to change and that the normalization process among Israel and Arab states will also benefit the Palestinians, two U.S. officials say.
Flashback: In September 2018, the Trump administration cut $25 million for the hospitals in East Jerusalem.
- That was part of a wider move to slash aid after the Palestinian Authority cut off talks with the Trump administration over its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
Behind the scenes: U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides played a key role in the U.S. announcement. He had several meetings about it with officials from the Israeli Ministry of Health and Prime Minister's Office, according to two of the Israeli officials.
- Nides told Israeli officials there was bipartisan support for the East Jerusalem hospitals because several of them are connected to Christian organizations and foundations.
- The White House and the State Department declined to comment for this story.