Judge Rejects Biden Admin Bid To Dismiss Lawsuit Over 'Illegal and Dangerous' $1.5 Billion Palestinian Payment Plan

L: UNRWA Building , R: Hamas militants (Getty Images)
July 1, 2024

A U.S. district court rejected the Biden administration’s bid to dismiss a landmark lawsuit alleging it engaged in an "illegal and dangerous $1.5 billion terrorism subsidy program for the Palestinians."

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled on Friday that the lawsuit brought by victims of Palestinian terrorism can proceed, marking the second time the Biden administration’s motion to dismiss the case has been rejected. The court, in its latest decision, said there is evidence the Biden administration continued awarding taxpayer cash to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)—the leading aid organization in Gaza—even after Congress blocked funding to that group due to its support for Hamas’s military infrastructure.

The lawsuit, originally filed in December 2022 by American victims of Palestinian terror attacks and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R., Texas), alleges the Biden administration violated federal law when it restarted aid to the Palestinians, including for programs in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. This money, they argue, subsidized terrorism and contributed to the Palestinian government’s "pay to slay" program, which provides imprisoned terrorists and their families with monthly stipends.

The latest decision paves the way for the case to "move forward, tearing away the veil from the Biden Administration’s illegal and dangerous $1.5 billion terrorism subsidy program for the Palestinians," America First Legal, a watchdog group handling the lawsuit on behalf of terror victims, said in a summary of the case provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

"This administration has been illegally funding terrorism by providing taxpayer dollars to Palestinian terrorists who want to bring harm to American and Israeli interests,"  said Rep. Jackson. "This critical decision will help to hold the Biden administration accountable and ensure that the national security of the United States and Israel is prioritized over the illegal funding of terrorism with American taxpayer dollars."

The court agreed that America First Legal provided sufficient evidence that the Biden administration’s financial support for UNRWA "is undiminished," even after Congress outlawed funding to the group following revelations its employees participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel. UNRWA facilities have also been used as Hamas command centers, and weapons stockpiles have repeatedly been discovered in the agency’s buildings.

The Biden administration attempted to argue that the plaintiff’s use of "Trump policies" in its initial suit was "amorpheous [sic] or indeterminate," but the court also rejected this claim, saying the suit clearly demonstrates that aid to both the Palestinians and UNRWA was frozen during the previous administration and subsequently restarted when President Joe Biden took office.

The lawsuit "makes that distinction clear," the court determined, adding that the Biden administration’s "decision to resume those two sources of funding each constitute discrete and final agency actions."

Reed Rubinstein, America First Legal’s senior vice president, said the latest ruling indicates the Biden administration knew it was violating the law by sending aid to the Palestinians but moved forward with this policy anyway.

The evidence, obtained through internal State Department emails and records, indicates the administration also violated the Taylor Force Act, a 2018 law named after an American killed by Palestinain terrorists that barred American funds to the Palestinian government until it ceased payments to imprisoned terrorists, Rubinstein said.

"The Biden administration’s $1.5 billion in illegal payments to Gaza, the West Bank, and the UNRWA have led to mass death, destruction, and disaster," according to Rubinstein. "Biden officials knew that by unlawfully overturning the existing Trump administration’s ‘no funds’ policy and violating the Taylor Force Act, U.S. taxpayers would end up subsidizing Hamas’s tunnels and missiles and the corrupt Palestinian Authority’s obscene pay-to-slay bounty program. Now, accountability is on the horizon."

Stuart and Robbi Force, Taylor's parents, who are parties in the suit against Biden, said they were "very appreciative of Judge Kacsmaryck’s denial of the government’s motions to dismiss our complaint."

"For the defendants to violate the [Taylor Force Act] and resume sending taxpayer dollars to terrorist entities is personally heartbreaking to our family and Taylor’s many friends, and is an affront to the strong bipartisan support the Act received in Congress," they added.

In its initial filing, America First Legal provided the court with internal State Department emails, first reported by the Free Beacon, showing that U.S. officials raised concerns in 2021 that a resumption in funding to the Palestinians would embolden Hamas.

"We assess there is a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza. There is less but still some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated groups," the State Department assessed at the time.

Separate funding streams to UNRWA, the lawsuit alleges, also bolstered Hamas and enabled it to carry out the Oct. 7 attack.

UNRWA "facilities have served as terrorist command and control center, weapon storage depots, and rocket launching platforms," according to the lawsuit. "It uses international money to indoctrinate Palestinian children into antisemitic terrorist cadres."