Photo: Alex Wong/Staff/Getty Images

The United States will give $5 million in humanitarian assistance to help hospitals in the West Bank cope with the coronavirus outbreak, U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman announced in a tweet on Thursday.

Why it matters: Over the last three years, the Trump administration cut almost all civilian and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians — worth around $500 million per year. The only assistance that continued was to the Palestinian security forces. This is the first time the Trump administration has renewed aid to the Palestinians.

The state of play: The financial aid to the Palestinian hospitals in the West Bank comes as part of a larger U.S. foreign assistance package to several countries hit by the coronavirus.

  • U.S. officials stress this is a humanitarian move, but the hope in Washington is that this could improve relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority, which have been essentially frozen over the last two and a half years.
  • Relations were further strained by the release of President Trump's Middle East peace plan two months ago, which was rejected out of hand by Palestinian leadership.
  • The aid to the Palestinians was supported by Trump's "peace team," including senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Avi Berkowitz, as well as Friedman.

What they're saying: "I'm very pleased the USA is providing $5M for Palestinian hospitals and households to meet immediate, life-saving needs in combating COVID-19. The USA, as the world's top humanitarian aid donor, is committed to assisting the Palestinian people, & others worldwide, in this crisis," Friedman wrote on Twitter.

Go deeper: U.S. cuts off all aid to Palestinian security forces

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