Palestinian Government Still Pays Terrorists as US Aid Dollars Flow

Non-public State Department report confirms Palestinians are not living up to promises

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images
October 18, 2022

The Palestinian government is still paying imprisoned terrorists stipends and inciting violence against Israel, even as the Biden administration provides nearly half a billion dollars in American taxpayer funds to the government, according to a non-public State Department report recently furnished to Congress.

The Palestinian Authority, which committed to stop these acts to receive new tranches of U.S. aid money, "continued payments to Palestinian prisoners who had committed acts of terrorism, as well as the families of so-called ‘martyrs’ who died while committing acts of terrorism," according to the report, a copy of which was reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. Official Palestinian government media organizations and social media accounts also "broadcast or published content praising or celebrating acts of violence."

Details from the State Department report are likely to fuel congressional opposition to the Biden administration’s renewed funding of the Palestinian Authority, which almost immediately resumed when the Democratic administration entered office. U.S. aid was slashed by the Trump administration due to the Palestinian Authority’s support for terrorism, as well as a bipartisan U.S. law mandating that American aid be frozen until the Palestinian government ends its terrorist payment policy, also known as "pay-to-slay." That law, the Taylor Force Act, was passed in 2018 and banned the State Department from allocating aid to the Palestinian government until it could certify that payments to terrorists and incitement against Israel ceased.

A State Department spokesman said the administration opposes the Palestinian pay-to-slay program and has repeatedly pressed the Palestinian Authority to stop it. The official also said all U.S. aid is allocated consistent with the law.

Information contained in the latest State Department report indicates the requirements for aid set forth under the law are not being met. Since April 2021, the United States has provided "over half a billion dollars in assistance for the Palestinians," according to the State Department. In July, President Joe Biden announced that another $316 million would be awarded to "support the Palestinian people," according to the White House.

"First, the administration tried to mislead Congress about Palestinian terrorists and payments to terrorists, which unfortunately worked long enough for them to move money to the Palestinian government," one senior congressional official who works on Middle East issues told the Washington Free Beacon. "Now, they just don’t care."

The State Department collected evidence showing that "elements of Palestinian leadership made individual statements that appeared to support violence," according to the report. The Palestinian Authority’s "conventional media and social media also broadcast problematic comments and videos." This occurred as Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas condemned a recent spate of terrorist attacks in Israel and "maintained a public position against incitement of violence and terrorism."

Official Palestinian government media outlets were labeled as "inconsistent" in their enforcement of prohibitions on terror incitement, according to the State Department. Social media accounts affiliated with Abbas’s Fatah Party, for instance, have "featured content praising or condoning acts of violence."

The Fatah Youth Movement at Najah University in the West Bank territory "praised the December 2021 killing" of an Israeli civilian as a "heroic operation," according to the information compiled by the State Department. Palestine TV also broadcast footage of "a young girl at a primary school in Jenin" reciting a poem "asking God to banish the Jews from the region."

In March, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, Wafa, posted a celebration on Facebook of terrorist Dalal al-Moghrabi, who killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children, in a 1978 attack. The outlet praised al-Moghrabi as "the icon of struggle and resistance," according to the State Department.

The Biden administration has given more than $417 million in humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is known to advocate against Israel, and terrorists have used its schools as a base of operations. The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded some $75 million in humanitarian assistance, and $20.5 million was allocated for COVID relief and "Gaza recovery assistance," according to the State Department.

Jonathan Schanzer, a regional expert and senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the Palestinian Authority and its splinter groups are becoming increasingly polarized.

"Incitement continues unabated by the Palestinian Authority," Schanzer told the Free Beacon. "In recent months, this has been accompanied by violent splinter factions of entities closely tied to the P.A. All of this could backfire rather badly on the P.A., which has not exactly been popular or stable. Washington has a duty to not only enforce its own policies. It has an obligation to preserve the system that it created, which now appears increasingly brittle."