Nearly one year ago, I wrote about the Trump Administration’s freeze of humanitarian assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, and then-Ambassador David Friedman’s “gift” of $5 million to help combat COVID relief. The release of these funds represented less than 6% of the Congressionally appropriated funds for humanitarian assistance to the West Bank and Gaza, and came two years after the Trump Administration announced the cut off of such assistance.

Today, the Biden Administration announced $15 million in humanitarian assistance for the West Bank and Gaza to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity. Instead of selling the assistance as a “gift” to the Palestinian people, the State Department is supporting Catholic Relief Services’ COVID-19 work in the health care sector and other emergency food assistance programs, which have become even more dramatically needed due to the impact of the pandemic. The announcement comes as the confirmed cases in the West Bank and Gaza continue to rise and many Palestinians hit hard by the pandemic continue to struggle with basic humanitarian necessities.

In announcing the move, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “This urgent, necessary aid… will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

This couldn’t be more true. The investment announced today by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is not a “gift” from the U.S., nor strictly a humanitarian relief effort, but an investment in Israeli security and stability in the region as well. The pandemic has taught us that the virus knows no borders and can’t tell the difference in ID cards. More so, the greater assistance Palestinians receive amid the pandemic, the less potential there is for increased strain on other areas, most importantly in terms of relations with Israel and progress towards an eventual negotiated two-state solution.

Today’s announcement is a positive step towards a much-needed Realistic Reset of U.S. policy regarding Israel and the Palestinains. There are more necessary measures, but continued progress in areas such as U.S. humanitarian assistance to the West Bank and Gaza can lay an important foundation that can ultimately lead to successful final status negotiations. In the interim, a $15 million humanitarian contribution, in the first three months of the Biden administration, is a good sign for U.S. policy returning to act as a force for good and helping to achieve stability in the region.