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March 24, 2021 4:34 pm

State Department Report Acknowledges Palestinian Authority Payments to Terrorists as Biden Administration Seeks to Resume Aid

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

The US State Department building in Washington, DC. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

The US State Department has acknowledged that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has not “terminated payments for acts of terrorism,” according to a non-public report to Congress seen by The Algemeiner, as the Biden administration has said it intends to restart aid to the PA cut by former President Donald Trump.

The March 18 report’s findings raised questions about how the Biden administration will resume US aid to the PA while complying with the Taylor Force Act (TFA), passed in 2018, which restricts such aid as long as the Palestinian Authority continues to make payments to terrorist prisoners.

“The PA has not revoked any law authorizing or implementing the system of compensation for imprisoned individuals that uses the sentence or period of incarceration of an individuals imprisoned for an act of terrorism to determine the level of compensation paid, or have taken comparable action that has the effect of invalidating any such law,” the report found. “The Department was unable to certify that the PA, the PLO, and any successor or affiliated organizations have met the requirements of the TFA.”

The report said that although the PA did not publish a 2019 budget, financial statements show that it sought to make $151.6 million in payments to convicted prisoners, detainees and former prisoners. Additionally, it was estimated that the PA paid about $191 million to reward families of deceased Palestinians referred to as “martyrs.”

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“PA officials claim that the majority of recipients of these funds were not involved in committing acts of terrorism, but due to the lack of information about individual recipients we are unable to verify these claims. The specific amount of these funds that was provided in relation to individuals who committed acts of terrorism remains uncertain,” the State Department concluded in the report.

Sander Gerber — a finance executive and fellow at JINSA and JCPA, who helped lead efforts to pass the TFA — told The Algemeiner, “this is an open acknowledgement by the State Department that the Palestinian Authority is actively sponsoring terrorists and that it has taken no steps to revoke the laws and dismantle the bureaucracy of its terrorist payment structure. Unless the laws that pay terrorists are revoked, the Biden administration giving money to the PA could be guilty of money laundering for terrorism.”

The Taylor Force Act, named in memory of a former American army officer stabbed to death in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv, was passed with bipartisan support in 2018. In January, the Biden Administration said it would seek to resume aid to the PA that had been cut off by Trump, as part of a plan to restore relations with the Palestinians.

A State Department spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Algemeiner: “This is a routine report submitted to Congress as required by the annual appropriations act and the Taylor Force Act.  The information provided in the report mirrors last year’s reports and is consistent with earlier reports under the previous administration, regardless of the previous decision to discontinue US assistance to the Palestinians.”

“This Administration is committed to working to reform the prisoner and martyr payment system,” the statement continued. “In administering assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, the Biden-Harris Administration has made clear it will comply with applicable requirements under US law, including the Taylor Force Act.”

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