Oct 19, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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As Secretary of State Anthony Blinken meets with Netanyahu this week to discuss the recent hostilities between Gaza and Israel, a White House report cited a senior State Department official as admitting that the humanitarian aid President Biden pledged to help rebuild Gaza might end up being usurped by Hamas for use in terrorism and rockets targeting Israel. The unnamed official was asked in a press briefing: “How can the U.S. guarantee aid to Gaza won’t be diverted toward replenishing the Hamas arsenal?”

“We’re going to be working in partnership with the United Nations and the Palestinian Authority to kind of channel aid there in a manner that does its best to go to the people of Gaza,” the official said, according to a White House transcript. “I’m also sure that the government of Egypt will have some role in that.”

“As we’ve seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees, but we’re going to do everything that we can to ensure that this assistance reaches the people who need it the most,” the official added.

Last week, President Biden promised to proved aid to help rebuild Gaza after the IDF responded to Hamas rockets targeting Israeli cities, resulting in massive destruction. This aid is in addition to the restoration of aid to the Palestinian Authority and Gaza by the Biden administration, reversing the policy of the Trump administration which cut off funding to the PA and UNRWA. Many GOP senators opposed the reinstatement of aid to the PA, claiming it violated the Taylor Force Act prohibiting which prohibits giving any American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until the PA ceases paying stipends through the Palestinian Authority Martyr’s Fund to individuals who commit acts of terrorism and to the families of deceased terrorists.

In March, the General Accounting Office, a US government watchdog agency,  issued a report showing that USAID did not fully comply with vetting procedures for primary recipients in the years 2015-2019 and that some of the funding may have reached terrorist organizations.

While in Israel, Blinken will also be meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and other top PA officials. After his meetings in the region, Blinken will be heading to continue negotiations with Iran concerning the nuclear deal.

Last week, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked the Islamic Republic of Iran for its support in the war against Israel.