August 24, 2023
Contact: Sarah Stern
EMET is Disappointed in the Biden Administration’s Decision to Ignore Warnings about U.S. Indirect Support for Hamas
(August 24, 2023, Washington, DC) – EMET expresses its deep disappointment in the recent reports showing the Biden administration resumed funding to the Palestinian Authority despite being warned that it may benefit Iranian-backed Hamas. Adam Kredo reported in the Washington Free Beacon that internal documents from the State Department reveal that “the Biden administration pushed through plans to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer aid to the Palestinians despite internal assessments that those plans could boost the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.”
State Department officials in 2021 outlined the concerns in private communications, asking the Treasury Department to exempt them from laws that bar the U.S. government from injecting taxpayer aid into territories controlled by Palestinian terror groups. The Biden administration needed this authorization in order to move forward with its plans to unfreeze more than $360 million in U.S. funds for the Palestinian Authority that were cut off during the Trump administration due to the authority’s support for terrorism.
“We assess there is a high-risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza. There is less but still, some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated groups,” the State Department wrote in a draft sanctions exemption request circulated internally in March 2021, shortly after Biden took office.
Notwithstanding the “high risk” assessment that Hamas would benefit from U.S. aid, the Biden administration plowed ahead despite the risks to innocent Israeli lives. Senator Ted Cruz, a staunch supporter of Israel and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, stated:
“Today’s report again confirms that Joe Biden and Biden administration officials are pathologically obsessed with undermining Israel. They made a day-one decision to pour hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars into areas controlled by Palestinian terrorists, despite knowing that such actions would benefit terrorist groups that have the blood of Americans and Israelis on their hands. State Department officials knew that doing so risked violating the most basic American laws prohibiting assistance that benefits terrorists, and so they rushed to lawlessly exempt themselves from those restrictions.”
This revelation is deeply troubling in light of the rising wave of Palestinian violence in the past few years, which is growing into a new era of terrorism and threatening a new Intifada. The administration’s efforts to pump money into the Palestinian Authority didn’t just prove ineffectual in stabilizing their rule. Moreover, it may actually have aided the growing terrorism with complete disregard for the safety of innocent lives. In August alone, there have been three terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens, resulting in the deaths of four innocent Jews, bringing the total number of Israelis killed by Palestinian “martyrs” to 24 this year. It is inconceivable that we continue to send U.S. taxpayer dollars to the P.A. despite the escalation of violence and news that Iranian proxies, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are operating there. Moreover, these recent revelation reveals the administration was clearly aware that releasing the funds was bound to violate the law.
EMET calls upon the Biden administration to abide by the U.S. law, which, through the Taylor Force Act, bars the U.S. from awarding funds to the Palestinian government until it stops paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families, a policy known as “pay to slay.” It is unacceptable that American dollars could casually benefit the enemies of the U.S. and Israel. We call on the administration to halt these payments until the State Department is able to abide by the legal restrictions on the transfer of such assistance.
Says Sarah Stern, Founder and President of EMET, “Palestinian leadership has victimized its own citizens by feeding them propaganda encouraging them to demonize, hate and kill Jews, since even before the modern state of Israel. It is deeply troubling that the Biden administration chose to ignore warnings from the State Department and proceeded with releasing assistance funds to the Palestinian Authority even as it indirectly aids Hamas. Why should American tax payer money reward those who hate Israel and the U.S.? This is not just a disregard of U.S. law but also of the daily violence with which innocent lives are threatened. We call on the U.S. Congress to take active measures ensuring the administration’s compliance with legal restrictions.”
About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET is a pro-American, pro-Israel, and pro-human rights, foreign policy think tank and policy shop in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.emetonline.org
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