The Biden administration is considering resuming aid to the Palestinian Authority (P.A.), despite acknowledging its continued funding of terrorism. The Washington Free Beacon first reported Monday that the State Department had “privately confirmed” to Congress that the P.A. continues to fund its “pay-to-slay” program to terrorists and their families.
Under the Taylor Force Act of 2018, however, a move to restart funding on the part of the Biden administration would likely be illegal, according to the House sponsor of the law Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-CO, who spoke to this reporter on Zoom Tuesday.
The law conditions U.S. aid to the P.A. on its ending of terrorist payments. According to Israeli watchdog organization Palestinian Media Watch, the P.A. spent $155 million on its “pay-to-slay” program in 2020 and there’s been no indication that the payments will stop.
A State Department spokesperson told this reporter Wednesday that the information disclosed to Congress was part of a normal procedure. Moreover, the spokesperson assured that the Biden administration hopes to ‘reform’ the P.A.’s “pay-to-slay” program and that aid will be compliant with the Taylor Force Act.
“This is a routine report submitted to Congress as required by the annual appropriations act and the Taylor Force Act,” the spokesperson said. “ 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 U.S. assistance to the Palestinians.”
They added, “This Administration is committed to working to reform the prisoner and martyr payment system. In administering assistance for the West Bank and Gaza, the Biden-Harris Administration has made clear it will comply with applicable requirements under U.S. law, including the Taylor Force Act.”
During Tuesday’s conversation, Lamborn called the possible move to restore U.S. aid to the P.A. “reprehensible,” adding “This is illegal on the part of the Biden administration if this is actually what they intend to do and it’s immoral.”
Further, Lamborn emphasized that the Taylor Force Act “says that no money can go to the P.A. while they are turning around and using money to pay stipends to those who are in prison for having committed acts of terrorism, including killing Jews or in the case of Taylor Force, an American, or they’re surviving families if they get killed during a terrorist attack. It is illegal for them to do that.”
Lamborn did point out a loophole in the law, which allows for the funding of “limited humanitarian” aid for hospitals, water infrastructure, and vaccinations for children. “But the amount of money the Biden administration is talking about would go way beyond that,” he added.
When asked by this reporter if the Biden administration would need proof that “pay-to-slay” has ended before aid is resumed, the State Department spokesperson declined to comment and couldn’t offer any further information on the matter.
“The reason it’s immoral is, and I can’t understand how in the world the Biden administration, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and the others are even thinking about this, is because the Palestinians are taking money from U.S. taxpayers, should this materialize, and turning around and paying rewards to terrorists who have killed innocent people,” Lamborn explained.
“Taylor Force was an American student,” he told this reporter. “He had served in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army soldier and he was in Israel as part of his studies for his business degree and he was killed in a senseless terrorist attack as an innocent bystander. But whether it’s Israelis or Americans, we can’t reward terrorist attacks by paying money to them after they are imprisoned or to their families if they’re killed, frankly.”
“What’s the worst of all about this whole setup is that they will pay more money to those who kill more people. It’s a reward for acts of terrorism and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be ashamed of themselves,” he said.
Ultimately, if the Biden administration were to restore payments to the P.A., Lamborn said it would be ‘rewarding bad behavior.’ He also says it would be a show of U.S. weakness in the Middle East.
“When someone is flouting your laws, and the P.A. is doing that, they’ve basically said ‘we don’t care what you said,'” Lamborn said. “They brazenly are making these payments despite the U.S. law… so rewarding them I would think would not be good diplomacy. You’re rewarding people for bad behavior and I don’t see how that furthers any interest of the United States, I don’t see how that furthers peace in the Middle East, I don’t see how that furthers an impression of U.S. strength in the region, it does none of those things.”
The Taylor Force Act was passed into law with strong bipartisan support in 2018 and Lamborn hopes a bipartisan group of lawmakers will hold the Biden administration accountable if they move forward with plans to restore funding to the P.A.
“It’s bipartisan in the U.S. Congress that there is support for Israel. Now, some are more sincere about that than others and there’s a few that don’t give any acknowledgment at all to the need of having a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. But I would say the great majority of the Republicans and many of the Democrats do give that verbal support. Now this will test how sincere and how serious they are if it comes to light that the Biden administration is breaking the law,” Lamborn concluded.
WATCH THE INTERVIEW HERE:
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