president Joe Biden attended Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem Friday morning and announced he would ask Congress to fund $100 million for health services for the hospital network that serves the Palestinian people.
“Palestinians and Israelis deserve an equal measure of freedom, security, prosperity and dignity, and access to health care when you need it is essential to leading a life of dignity for all of us,” the president said in a brief Speech.
Biden followed in the footsteps of his wife, First Lady Jill Bidenwho had previously visited the hospital twice.
according to dr Fadi Atrash, the hospital’s CEO and secretary-general of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, said his visit “brought hope to thousands of Palestinians.”
“We Palestinians are just like the Americans,” Atrash said. “We have our own dream that we want to realize. And for that we need hope, justice, freedom and support from friends like you in America and around the world.”
“We are very, very lucky to have you and you are most welcome, Mr. President,” Atrash added.
President Joe Biden visited the Augusta Victoria Hospital in east Jerusalem on Friday morning and announced that he would ask Congress to fund $100 million for health services for the hospital network that serves the Palestinian people
President Joe Biden exits the stage on Friday after announcing a $100 million pledge for hospitals in east Jerusalem that serve the Palestinian people
As Biden took the podium, he spoke of being Irish-American and compared the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Irish Catholics’ relationship with Britain.
Then he asked, ‘Are there nurses in the room?’
“Because if not, I’m going home,” said the President, laughing. “If there are angels in heaven – no, no, no, I sincerely mean that from the bottom of my heart.”
“My wife and daughter were killed and my boys were trapped in a vehicle for hours when a tractor-trailer hit them — the doctor saved their lives but the nurses made them want to live,” Biden said.
The President spoke about his own healthcare challenges, double aneurysms with an embolism to boot.
“I joked the reason they went in twice to take my head off is because they couldn’t find a brain the first time,” Biden said.
In a more serious tone, he added, “I don’t think you nurses are appreciated anywhere near enough.”
He recalled being in intensive care – and said he had never made those comments public.
“And you look at the monitors and you know that if the line goes out, you’re dead,” the president said. “But you just get tired, even if you’re not in pain, you just want to stop.”
“And the nurses at Walter Reed Hospital. They came up and they rubbed my face, they whispered in my ear. They came closer and told me everything will be fine. You changed my life,” he said.
He then turned to his late son Beau Biden, who died in 2015 from a glioblastoma that the president said he believes was a product of his son’s service in Iraq, since the Delaware attorney general slept near cremation pits .
“He should be the man who speaks to you as President, not me,” Biden noted.
The President then turned back to actual business and announced a $100 million pledge for the Palestinian health system.
“I pray that the United States will collectively reduce the hospital’s debt burden and support targeted infrastructure updates and critical patient care reforms to ensure long-term financial stability,” he said.
“We also welcome the UAE’s contribution of US$25 million. And I encourage other nations in the region and around the world to also make their own contributions to support the important work being done here,” added the President.
He said that “the United States will continue to work with the Palestinian leadership, with the Israeli government, and with all of our international partners to ensure that the hospital network in East Jerusalem remains sustainable, remains available, and is able to serve the Palestinians.” to provide quality care people deserve.’
After the hospitalization, Biden will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his final stop in Israel before traveling to Saudi Arabia to meet with his controversial crown prince.
Biden will offer the Palestinians a commitment from Israel to modernize wireless access.
But that will be all he has to offer.
Biden supports a two-state solution, but there is no clear path to an independent Palestinian state.
“There are practical realities on the ground that we take a lot into account, so we didn’t come up with a top-down plan, but we’ve always said we’ll be there when the parties are ready to talk and we think that they should, right next to them,” said a senior administrator.
The Palestinians want an independent state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
The international community also supports the idea, but given the hardening attitudes on both sides, it seems a distant goal.
Yair Lapid, the caretaker prime minister, supports two states but has no mandate to lead peace negotiations. And Israel’s November 1 elections could bring to power a right-wing government opposed to Palestinian statehood.
Biden will meet with Abbas, 86, who heads the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and works with Israel on security issues.
The President will spend his last day in Israel with the West Bank after barely mentioning the Palestinians for the past two days.
Biden’s focus has been on long-time US ally Israel, and he has repeatedly praised the country during his time on the ground.
Israeli officials protested that none of their officers stop with Biden in the hospital, which they say is happening on their territory.
But a senior administration official called it a “private visit,” pointing out that Jill Biden visited the same hospital when she was second lady and arguing the Bidens have long ties to it.
After the hospitalization, Biden will visit Abbas in Bethlehem and then tour the Church of the Nativity.
He then travels to Saudi Arabia.