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US President Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem on July 15, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

JERUSALEM: President Joe Biden has announced $100 million in US assistance for east Jerusalem hospitals that serve as “the backbone’’ of health care for Palestinians.

He spoke on Friday during a visit to the Augusta Victoria Hospital, which provides advanced medical care, including radiation treatment for cancer patients and paediatric kidney dialysis, to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

The funding is subject to approval by the US Congress and would pay out over several years.

Biden called the six hospitals “the backbone of the Palestinian health care system.’’

The aid came after the Trump administration slashed $25 million to the hospitals in 2018 as part of a larger suspension of aid to the Palestinians. Biden has restored much of that assistance since assuming office, but has made no progress in resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which collapsed more than a decade ago.

Dr. Fadi Atrash, the hospital’s CEO, called Biden’s visit a “courageous statement of support for the Palestinian people.’’

Biden was set to meet with Palestinian leaders in the occupied West Bank later on Friday.

The six east Jerusalem hospitals, which symbolize the Palestinian presence in the city, have faced a funding crisis in recent years, as the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority has struggled to pay for advanced treatment for Palestinians.

Augusta Victoria Hospital, which is operated by the Lutheran World Federation, ended 2021 in severe debt, with more than $70 million owed by the PA, according to a letter sent to US lawmakers in May.