Victims of Palestinian terror attacks are suing the Biden administration for awarding nearly half a billion dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds to the Palestinian government, which allegedly uses these funds to pay convicted terrorists and their families.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Tuesday by American victims of Palestinian terror attacks and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R., Texas), alleges the Biden administration is in violation of federal law for resuming U.S. aid to the Palestinian government, according to a copy of the lawsuit exclusively obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The Trump administration froze these funds due to the Palestinian government’s financial support for terrorists as part of a program known as pay-to-slay.
The plaintiffs, led in the suit by the America First Legal Foundation, a watchdog group composed of lawyers, are asking the court to halt the Biden administration’s Palestinian aid program over charges it is sustaining the pay-to-slay program in violation of a 2018 law known as the Taylor Force Act. That law—named after an American who was killed in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist—bars all U.S. payments to the Palestinian government until it halts the terrorist payment program.
The State Department, which is named as a defendant in the suit, has formally determined in congressional notifications that the Palestinian government pays terrorists and incites violence against Israel. Now, a court must determine if U.S. aid payments should be stopped for violating federal law.
Force’s family is also listed as a plaintiff in the case, along with Jackson and Sarri Singer, who survived a Palestinian suicide bombing in 2003.
"I am committed to doing everything in my power to get the accountability these families so richly deserve as we work to make sure U.S. taxpayer-funded terrorism never happens again," Jackson told the Free Beacon. "President Trump showed tremendous leadership when he signed the Taylor Force Act into law and ended taxpayer support for the Palestinian Authority’s terrorist activities. Joe Biden’s decision to reverse course knowing full well blood is on his hands as a result is unconscionable."
Stuart and Robbi Force, Taylor’s parents, said in a statement that President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are "dishonoring the memory and legacy of a good man, and ignoring the citizens of the United States who understand that taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the killing of innocent civilians."
The lawsuit centers on the Biden’s administration’s decision to resume U.S. aid even as the State Department determines the pay-to-slay program has continued, disclosures that were first made public by the Free Beacon reveal.
The Palestinian government "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," the State Department affirmed in a non-public report to Congress earlier this year.
The Palestinian government has provided an estimated $1.5 billion to convicted terrorists and their families from 2013 to 2020, according to information contained in the lawsuit. As much as $15 million per month is being paid into the pay-to-slay fund as of 2020, according to Palestinian officials quoted in regional news outlets.
While the bulk of U.S. funds are channeled through a Palestinian economic support program that primarily benefits non-governmental groups operating in the region, the lawsuit alleges this fund is a tactic to skirt the Taylor Force Act.
The administration is "intentionally laundering Economic Support Fund grants and awards through non-governmental organizations that are in fact or by operation of ‘law-by-decree’ Palestinian Authority affiliates or instrumentalities," the suit says.
The State Department maintains that all aid to the Palestinians is consistent with U.S. law.
"The Biden administration is strongly opposed to the prisoner payment system and has consistently engaged the Palestinian Authority to end this practice," a State Department spokesman told the Free Beacon in October. The U.S. Agency for International Development's "assistance in the West Bank and Gaza is implemented consistent with U.S. law."
Julie Strauss, senior counsel at the America First Legal Foundation, told the Free Beacon the administration knew that resuming Palestinian aid would prompt a "massive infusion of U.S. funds [that] has led to a correspondingly massive increase in the frequency and lethality of Palestinian terrorism."
The lawsuit, she said, "seeks to protect Taylor Force's memory and the rule of law by stopping Joe Biden and Secretary of State Blinken from subsidizing Palestinian terrorism."