WASHINGTON — President Obama promised a $400 million aid package for the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, as the United States scrambled to come up with a way out of the stalemate in the Middle East exacerbated by the Gaza flotilla incident last week.
Mr. Obama, meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House, said that the money would go to housing and schools. White House officials said that the money also would help increase access to drinking water and to help address health and infrastructure needs.
The exact details of how such aid would be used in Gaza remained unclear. Nor was it immediately clear how Mr. Abbas, who has authority in the West Bank but no authority in Gaza, would be able to administer it.
Gaza has been subjected to an Israeli blockade since 2007; an Israeli raid that thwarted a Turkish-led flotilla carrying aid supplies toward Gaza last week led to international protests over the blockade, which Mr. Obama has called “unsustainable.”
Israel contends the blockade is necessary to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza and opposes Israel’s existence.
Administration officials and their European allies have been pressing the Israeli government to come up with some kind of agreement to partly lift the blockade.
“The president has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable, and it demands a significant change in strategy,” the White House said in a statement.
“While we work with our partners in the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, and the international community to put such a strategy in place, these projects represent a down payment on the United States’ commitment to Palestinians in Gaza, who deserve a better life and expanded opportunities, and the chance to take part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with those who live in the West Bank.”
This man’s got to be stopped!