The Biden administration has shipped more than a half billion U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority without verifying that the organization isn’t funding terrorism, according to a federal lawsuit.
The plaintiffs include victims of terrorism and Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, and is being led by America First Legal (AFL), a government watchdog group.
“Joe Biden is breaking the law by allowing our tax dollars to fund terrorism in Israel, and he must be stopped,” said Jackson, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “I have deep respect for my fellow plaintiffs who have been tragically and directly impacted by Pay to Slay, and I am proud to be on the same team as we hold this failed administration accountable.”
The law, which is named for Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in 2016, prohibits U.S. economic assistance that benefits the Palestinian Authority unless and until the secretary of state certifies that the group has terminated funding of violent extremism. The law passed Congress with bipartisan support, and President Donald Trump signed it in 2018 as part of a consolidated appropriations bill.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, names President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken as defendants for allegedly violating the Taylor Force Act.
Stuart and Robbi Force, the parents of Taylor Force, are plaintiffs in the suit, as is Sarri Singer, a survivor of a 2003 suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem that killed 17 people.
The only relief that plaintiffs seek is to force the government to comply with the law, said Reed Rubenstein, the AFL’s director of oversight.
“We want to enforce accountability and transparency,” Rubenstein told Fox News Digital. “These so-called NGOs are reporting to the Palestinian ruling government. For the administration to try to separate the NGOs from the ruling regime is ludicrous.”
The parents of the victim the law is named for, a direct terrorism victim, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee should have adequate legal standing to bring the case, Rubenstein contends. He expects the government to respond in late February.
In March 2021, the State Department notified Congress: “The department was unable to certify that the PA, the PLO, and any successor or affiliated organizations have met the requirements of the [Taylor Force Act].” Again in October 2022, the State Department reported to Congress that it has not verified whether the Palestinian Authority has stopped funding terrorism.
Also in March 2021, Palestinian Liberation Organization Commissioner for Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, reportedly admitted paying about $181 million in bounties in 2020.
But in May 2021, Blinken confirmed that more than $360 million in U.S. funding would benefit the Palestinian Authority, largely through Economic Supports Funds, the complaint alleges. It adds that in June 2021, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas authorized a payment of $42,000 to the family of a terrorist who killed two Israelis.
“President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken are dishonoring the memory and legacy of a good man and ignoring the citizens of the United States who understand that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the killing of innocent civilians,” the parents of Taylor Force said in a statement.
A State Department public affairs official said that the department does not comment on pending litigation.
In a fact sheet issued on March 26, the department stated that the aid is to help the “Palestinian people” for the neediest households, and providing water, sanitation and hygiene resources.
“Since April 2021, the United States has provided over half a billion dollars in assistance for the Palestinians, including more than $417 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinian refugees through UNRWA, $75 million in support through USAID, and $20.5 million in COVID and Gaza recovery assistance,” the State Department fact sheet reads.
“The U.S. government plans to provide an additional $75 million in economic assistance to the Palestinian people this year,” the department continues. “Additionally, the United States is also providing $45 million for programs to support the security sector including important improvements to the rule of law.”
Rubenstein of America First Legal doesn’t doubt that the administration will contend that the funding is not directly going to the Palestinian rulers.
“The administration may say the funding is benefiting the Palestinian people, but this money for aid frees up the Palestinian Authority — if it doesn’t spend money on basic government functions like cleaning up garbage — to spend on other things. Money is fungible,” Rubenstein said. “It turns out, if you increase funding for violence, you will get an increase in violence.”