The State Department deleted references to the Palestinian government’s terror incitement in a report sent last week to Congress, highlighting what some see as an effort by the Biden administration to downplay Palestinian violence as it restarts U.S. taxpayer aid to the government.
The Biden State Department's latest report to Congress, issued under a mandatory reporting statute included in the 1990 Palestine Liberation Organization Commitments Compliance Act, omits specific references to the Palestinian government’s ongoing calls for violence, as well as its support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which wages economic warfare on Israel. Both issues, which are being closely tracked in Congress, were included in the outgoing Trump administration's October report, according to copies of both reports viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.
Officials in Congress say it is notable that the State Department would omit two closely watched issues in the report, which is otherwise nearly identical to the Trump administration version, fueling accusations the Biden administration is whitewashing the Palestinians' bad behavior. The changes come amid a broader push by the Biden administration to renew hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer aid to the Palestinian government, even as it continues to call for Israel’s destruction and lend support to the anti-Semitic BDS movement.
The Biden administration’s pivot on the Palestinian issue has already been the subject of heightened criticism, including in Congress, as the governing Palestinian Authority continues to use international aid dollars to pay terrorists and their families. The Biden administration approved millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the Palestinians earlier this year over congressional objections and a law that prohibits America from sending aid until the PA stops paying terrorists as part of a program known as "pay to slay."
The Free Beacon obtained copies of both reports and found the Biden administration deleted information about terror incitement and Palestinian support for the BDS movement. The State Department declined to comment on the changes.
Dave Vasquez, press secretary for Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), said the State Department wants to downplay Palestinian incitement in order to stifle debate in Congress. Cruz has been an outspoken critic of U.S. aid to the Palestinian government and the Biden administration’s decision to send it.
"The Biden administration is committed to pouring money into Palestinian areas, in defiance of U.S. laws that restrict funding because the Palestinian Authority incites and subsidizes acts of terrorism against Israel," Vasquez said. "It’s no wonder this administration would try to downplay that behavior to limit public debate over their controversial policy."
In the latest report, the Biden State Department removed a section of text detailing how Palestinian schools and media outlets routinely employ violent rhetoric.
"Some PA schools and media outlets continue to promote the idea that Israel does not have a right to exist and support the elimination of Israel on maps that show ‘Palestine’ covering over Israel with indication ‘Palestine’ will be ‘liberated’ in the future," the Trump administration’s October report stated in a now-removed section.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised in June to condition U.S. aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which oversees education in the Palestinian territories, on the agency removing calls for Israel’s destruction from its textbooks. By omitting reporting on this issue from its latest report to Congress, the State Department could be trying to bypass oversight on Blinken’s vow.
Another portion on the Arab League’s boycotts of Israel omits an entire paragraph detailing how the Palestinian government is undermining regional peace with Israel.
"The PA expressed its strong disapproval of Arab states normalizing relations with Israel," the October report stated in a now-deleted paragraph. "Referring to the [United Arab Emirates’] diplomatic normalization agreement with Israel, [Palestinian president Mahmoud] Abbas said, ‘We consider this a stab in the back and we absolutely reject it.’"
The Trump administration’s report also stated: "PA diplomats also worked [to] encourage statements, including from the Arab League, condemning normalization. The PA also expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel."
These findings are omitted from the Biden administration’s version of the report.
One GOP congressional aide who works on Middle East issues said the Biden administration is attempting to downplay the Palestinian government's anti-Israel actions.
"The Biden administration is shoveling taxpayer money toward the Palestinians, even though the Palestinians use their money to pay for terrorists and attack Israel," said the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. "The American people oppose terrorism and support Israel, so, of course, the State Department wouldn’t want to talk about Palestinian behavior."