Biden Admin to Restart Palestinian Aid as Payments to Terrorists Flow

Joe Biden and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in 2016 / AP
March 4, 2021

The Biden administration will resume U.S. taxpayer aid to the Palestinians, even though the Palestinian government continues to use this money to pay convicted terrorists and their families.

State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed this week that the administration will reverse a decision by former President Donald Trump to cut off American aid to the Palestinian government and United Nations organizations that provide services in the region. The United States now intends "to provide assistance that will benefit all Palestinians, including [Palestinian] refugees," Price said.

The decision comes as the Palestinian government continues to spend international aid dollars on a program known as "pay-to-slay," in which large portions of this money are spent caring for imprisoned terrorists and their families. The resumption of aid could also violate a 2017 bipartisan law passed by Congress that bars the American government from giving the Palestinian Authority taxpayer aid until it ends its terrorist payment program. The State Department has yet to explain how it will resume U.S. aid without violating that law, known as the Taylor Force Act.

A State Department official familiar with the matter told the Washington Free Beacon that "any decisions related to resuming assistance to the West Bank and Gaza will be consistent with requirements under relevant U.S. law."

The Palestinian government reportedly spent around $155 million on imprisoned terrorists in 2020 alone and has vowed to continue the program, despite U.S. laws such as the Taylor Force Act. Around 3.2 percent of the Palestinian Authority's budget was allocated to the program, according to Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which monitors the government.

Many of these payments were hidden by the Palestinian government through the transfer of some $300 million to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an armed resistance group helmed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, according to PMW.

The money was transferred to the PLO as part of an effort to hide these payments from the United States as well as from the international donor community, which has continued to fund the perpetually cash-strapped government. While the Palestinian Authority is required to provide international donors with a level of transparency in order to receive funding, the PLO is not a party to these mandates.