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House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians | TheHill – The Hill

A large group of House Democrats on Wednesday pressed Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department’s cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to lift his hold on millions of dollars in aid to Palestinians after a brutal war in the Gaza Strip decimated the coastal enclave.

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinPelosi floats Democrat-led investigation of Jan. 6 as commission alternative Democrats plot next move after GOP sinks Jan. 6 probe Republicans try but can’t escape Jan. 6  MORE (Md.) led a group of 145 Democrats in calling on Risch to lift his hold on $75 million in aid that was approved under the Trump administration.

“We write with a great sense of urgency to respectfully request that you release your hold on tens of millions of dollars in appropriated humanitarian aid that is so desperately needed to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians rebuilding their lives in the wake of the fighting between Hamas and Israel earlier this month,” the lawmakers wrote.

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“Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe. Buildings lie in rubble. Access to clean water and electricity is sporadic or nonexistent. Food insecurity is spreading. COVID-19 is running rampant and thousands of people have been displaced and rendered homeless. The magnitude of the crisis is staggering.” 

The Biden administration has said the funds will go toward assisting Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grapple with the coronavirus and a flagging economy as well as rebuild from the recent war between Israel and militants in Gaza.

The push for aid from the Democrats comes as a cease-fire reached last month has so far managed to hold. While some Republicans have expressed concerns that aid to Palestinians could make its way to Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, the Democrats said that the money would be tightly monitored. 

“As the ceasefire takes hold, the United States can help relieve the suffering of countless innocent civilians. The assistance aid notified by the State Department is to be provided in full accordance with U.S. law. It is administered and overseen by our government and by trusted and vetted partners on the ground. Secretary [of State] Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPentagon reviewing policy limiting flags displayed at military bases: report Blinken’s visit to Costa Rica is smart first step Biden’s Africa policy — time to be bold! MORE has made clear that Hamas and other terrorist groups will not benefit from our humanitarian assistance,” they wrote.

The Hill has reached out to Risch’s office for comment.

President BidenJoe BidenRNC warns it will advise presidential candidates against future debates if panel doesn’t make changes Washington Post issues correction on 2020 report on Tom Cotton, lab-leak theory Graham says Israel will request billion from US after Gaza war MORE has already voiced support for delivering aid to both Israel and the Palestinians, saying he intends to replenish funds for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system as well as boost the recovery efforts in Gaza.