The Washington Free Beacon reported that Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), a watchdog group comprised of former government officials, has brought a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) against the Biden administration’s State Department to release documents showing that funding for the Palestinian Authority violated the Taylor Force Act.
The PPT has initially made the FOIA request on May 13 for records related to the resumption of direct and indirect aid to the Palestinian Authority. The State Department responded that it would be unable to complete the request until December 16, 2022 while at the same time refusing to commit to even an estimate of when it will begin to provide records.
Resuming the aid would require certification. According to media reports at the time State decided to resume the payments, the Department was “unable to certify” those conditions had been met.
“The American public deserves transparency around this decision, which may not only be in violation of the law but could potentially result in increased danger for U.S. citizens and their allies,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director, told the Free Beacon. “But the State Department has yet to even give an estimate for when we will receive records, much less provide any.”
The Taylor Force Act, passed into law with bipartisan support in 2018, prohibits American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) 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. The following August, the Trump administration cut more than $200 million in direct aid to the PA. At the same time, the United States stopped giving aid to UNRWA, representing a cut of $300 million.
Since 1993, the U.S. government has provided more than $6.3 billion in bilateral assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The State Department reported to Congress in March 2021 that the Palestinian government spent at least $151 million in 2019 on the pay-to-slay program. Another $191 million was spent on “deceased Palestinians referred to as ‘martyrs,'” according to the State Department’s assessment. At the times, The State Department admitted it was “unable to certify” to Congress that the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization are complying with the Taylor Force Act.
In addition to paying terrorists and their families, the State Department determined the Palestinian government has “not taken proactive steps to counter incitement to violence against Israel.”
Nonetheless, in April, the Biden administration restored a total of $235 million in aid to the PA. This came shortly after 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.
After Hamas fired over 4,300 rockets at Israeli cities in May, President Biden promised to proved aid to help rebuild Gaza after the IDF responded to Hamas rockets targeting Israeli cities, resulting in massive destruction. After announcing these plans, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken admitted to the media that the funds intended for humanitarian aid may be diverted and used by Hamas, the democratically elected government and a designated terrorist organization.