Biden administration officials may have broken the law when they erased information about the Palestinian government's terror incitement from a mandatory compliance report submitted to Congress in July, according to a legal watchdog group.
The America First Legal Foundation (AFLF) in a letter sent Wednesday is asking the State Department inspector general to investigate the Biden administration's decision to omit references to the Palestinian government's calls for violence, as well as its support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement—issues that are being closely monitored by Congress as the Biden administration restarts millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the Palestinians. Information about Palestinian terror incitement and support for the BDS movement were included in the outgoing Trump administration's October 2020 version of the report, but removed by the Biden administration when it came into office, as the Free Beacon first reported.
The AFLF letter says the Biden administration removed this information to downplay Palestinian intransigence as it renews taxpayer aid to the government. Lawmakers, including a large portion of Republicans, criticized the resumption of U.S. aid, particularly since the Palestinian government subsidizes terrorists and advocates for Israel's destruction. The AFLF has also submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department for all internal records related to the decision to nix information from the latest congressional report.
The Biden administration "unlawfully [concealed] multiple material derogatory facts regarding the Palestinian Authority's ongoing economic, political, and ideological support for terrorism; economic warfare against Israel; and opposition to regional peace," Reed Rubinstein, AFLF's senior counselor, wrote to acting State Department inspector general Diana Shaw. "It seems these derogatory facts were deleted, expunged, and concealed not because circumstances on the ground had changed, but rather because officials in the Department's Bureau of Near East Affairs and in the Biden White House decided to cover them up, at least in part to facilitate the planned transfer of hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Authority in potential violation of U.S. law."
If the information was removed in order to keep Congress in the dark about the Palestinian government's ongoing transgressions, it could constitute a violation of U.S. law, according to AFLF's letter.
The watchdog group says the State Department must "immediately open an investigation" into any decision by officials "to conceal and cover up material derogatory facts regarding the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority from the Congress."
AFLF's FOIA requests all documents and internal communications related to the Palestinian compliance report and the information included in it. The group also wants the names of any Biden administration officials who played a role in removing information from the report.
"We are concerned by attempts to conceal material facts regarding the PLO's support for terrorism, commitment to the destruction of the State of Israel and the concomitant murder and/or expulsion of the Jews now resident there, and ongoing efforts to block peace treaties between Israel and the Arab states from Congress," the FOIA request states, according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.
In addition to removing information about Palestinian support for terrorism and incitement, the Biden State Department removed a section of text detailing how Palestinian schools and media outlets routinely employ violent rhetoric. A second portion on the Arab League's boycotts of Israel omits a paragraph on how the Palestinian government is undermining regional peace with Israel.
The State Department confirmed that it is in possession of the IG request and that the information is being forwarded to the State Department inspector general.