(JNS) Joe Biden made clear during his campaign that he would restore Palestinian aid cut by his predecessor as part of an effort to improve relations with the Palestinians. As president, he wasted no time in approving $290 million in assistance to the Palestinian Authority and another $150 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). These allocations violate the spirit if not the letter of the laws designed to make the Palestinians and the United Nations accountable for undermining the prospects for peace with Israel.
Since Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Peace Accords in September 1993 and promised to stop terrorism, at least 54 Americans have been among the more than 1,600 people murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Those serving time in Israeli jails have been receiving stipends from the PA since it passed a law in 2004, providing these killers as much as $3,400 per month.
For example, American Ari Fuld was stabbed in the back and killed by Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin in 2018. Jabarin was convicted in 2020 and became eligible to collect about $415 a month for the first three years of his sentence from the PA. During his lifetime in prison, Jabarin can expect to collect tens of thousands of dollars.
Congress passed the Taylor Force Act, named for an American Army veteran who was visiting Israel as a graduate student and was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Jaffa, barring US funding to the PA as long as it continues this “pay-for-slay” policy. Aid continues to flow, however, despite the US State Department acknowledging that the PA has not terminated payments for acts of terrorism against Israeli and US citizens. This month, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed his commitment to the “pay-for-slay” policy.
The administration claims it is not violating the law. Even if that were true, since money is fungible, US taxpayer dollars free up money for the PA to continue to incentivize and reward terrorism.
In addition, the Consolidated Appropriations Act mandates that the United States withhold economic assistance from the PA if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
The administration has found a way around this law as well, ignoring PA calls for ICC investigations into Israeli policies in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Last June, PA Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Riyad al-Maliki demanded that the new ICC prosecutor give priority to the cases submitted by the “State of Palestine” and expedite the opening of the investigations. The PA has also submitted 60 cases accusing Israel of crimes.
There is no law barring aid to UNRWA; however, Congress has made its concerns known by requiring the State Department to report whether the agency is taking steps to ensure the content of educational materials taught in UNRW-administered schools and summer camps is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity and tolerance, and does not induce incitement.
The Biden administration said it was restoring aid after “UNWRA has made clear their rock-solid commitments to the United States on the issues of transparency, accountability, and neutrality in all its operations. … And what neutrality means in the context of the United Nations is zero tolerance for racism, discrimination, and antisemitism.”
The United States has continued to fund UNRWA while acknowledging the agency continues to distribute antisemitic and anti-Israel material. A report by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se), for example, found that “UNRWA is complicit in radicalizing schoolchildren through the glorification of terrorists, encouragement to violence and teaching of blood libels to Palestinian schoolchildren.” UNRWA maps label all of Israel as “Palestine,” and Israel is referred to as “The Enemy” or the “Zionist Occupation.”
In 2020, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning the use of such materials, and the United Kingdom and European Union subsequently cut their contributions to UNRWA.
UNRWA has been a sinkhole for more than $6 billion in US funding since 1950. This is an agency that was supposed to support Palestinian (and Jewish) refugees until they could be resettled or repatriated. More than 70 years later, UNRWA creates refugees, claiming the need to support 5.7 million Palestinians—more than 10 times the number that was displaced in 1948-1949. Today, the real number of surviving refugees is probably less than 20,000 but by defining “refugee” to include descendants, the number has continued to grow each year.
Thanks in part to US support, UNRWA can incite violence and teach millions of Palestinians to hate Jews and Israel.
Rather than use aid as leverage to encourage reforms, the administration is rewarding the Palestinians for their intransigence and underwriting their promotion of terror.
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on US-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”