A conservative advocacy group is demanding that Biden’s state department release documents concerning its funding of the Palestinian Authority. They suspect that the State Department is pursuing a policy to enable the PA to establish a stronger presence in Jerusalem.
The Washington Free Beacon reported on Friday that America First Legal (AFI), a group of conservative lawyers and activists, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the State Department for documents about US funding for the Palestinian Authority. Funding to the PA was suspended under President Donald Trump due to the Taylor Force Act which prohibits funding the PA if they pay stipends to terrorists. The Biden administration reinstated the funding.
The Free Beacon reported earlier this month on a non-public State Department report to Congress that determined the Palestinian government is still paying terrorists
AFI believes that much of the funding is going towards projects intended to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem.
“Make no mistake—the purpose here, contrary to U.S. law, is creating facts on the ground to undermine Israel’s borders and sovereignty and to reverse the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city,” Reed D. Rubinstein, America First Legal’s senior counselor and director of oversight, said in a statement. “The Biden administration is pumping hundreds of millions in U.S. taxpayer dollars into ‘projects’ that directly benefit both the corrupt Palestinian Authority and the terrorist Hamas dictatorship.”
The Biden State Department has been moving forward with plans to reopen the US Consulate for Palestinians in the eastern part of Jerusalem. This would include elevating Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr to the role of special envoy to the Palestinians.
The organization’s FOIA centers on a State Department fact sheet from March that outlined projects run by the United States’ Palestinian Affairs Unit.
The Palestinian Affairs Department used to operate independently from the embassy and served effectively as a diplomatic mission to the Palestinian Authority from inside Jerusalem until President Trump closed that department in 2019 and moved it to the new embassy, placing it under the auspices of the US Ambassador to Israel.
Biden has made the Palestinian Affairs Unit independent once again. If it is moved to its former location in Jerusalem (as Price said it would), it will operate once again as a de facto embassy to the PA from inside Jerusalem.
The Israeli government strongly opposes this plan.