Earlier this month, former US President Barack Obama sat down for an interview with Ezra Klein for The New York Times to discuss his legacy. During their meeting, Obama praised US President Joe Biden, whom he said is “essentially finishing the job” of his administration. While each administration has a distinctive character all their own, the decision by President Biden to restore aid to the Palestinians, despite their continued “pay for slay” program, is one disturbing parallel between the two presidents.
Biden’s renewal of Palestinian aid also violates “The Taylor Force Act,” named in memory of US Army captain Taylor Force, who in 2016 was stabbed to death in Jaffa while on a school trip with Vanderbilt University. The Taylor Force Act was passed with large bipartisan support, and signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018; it halts over $200 million in annual US economic aid to the Palestinians until the Palestinian Authority (PA) ceases its cash incentive program for terrorists.
Taylor Force, a West Point graduate who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorist Bashar Massalha who hailed from the West Bank city of Qalqilya. Massalha was shot dead by police following his stabbing spree, and was subsequently lauded as a “hero and a martyr” by the PA. At the same time, Palestinians danced in celebration upon hearing the news of Force’s death.
Under the PA’s “pay for slay” program, Massalha’s family receives a monthly pension amounting to three times the average salary in the West Bank. In total, the PA has compensated over 36,000 terrorists and their families, and allocates approximately 8% of its budget towards rewarding terror. Financial payments are divided between stipends for imprisoned terrorists and payments for the families of dead terrorists. These financial arrangements are based on a sliding scale — the more egregious the attack, the higher the payout.
In early April, prior to the breakout of fighting between Israel and Hamas, President Biden announced $110 million in Palestinian assistance. This package includes $75 million in economic support and another $10 million dedicated exclusively to “peacebuilding” programs. Perhaps feeling emboldened, Hamas launched the worst rocket barrage against Israel in years. Immediately following the truce brokered between Israel and Hamas, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the region and pledged to increase Palestinian aid to $360 million citing “urgent support for the Palestinian people.” While the PA continues to reward Palestinian terrorists, the Biden administration is loosening American purse strings to the satisfaction of rogue actors like Hamas.
Contained within the US foreign aid package is the resumption of $150 million in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Former President Trump ceased funding of UNRWA due to the organization’s non-compliance with international terror laws and its promotion of jihad against Israel.
And while Blinken insists that a restoration of American aid will help rebuild Gaza, he has admitted that there “are no guarantees” that American money will not end up in the pockets of terrorist groups. Michael Rubin, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, also acknowledges that it remains impossible for the US to invest in Gaza without benefiting Hamas.
Responding to said concerns, Blinken announced last Tuesday that renewed funding for UNRWA will now be conditioned on the eradication of antisemitic and anti-Israel material from its educational curriculum. Prior to the disbursement of funds, the State Department will now have to report to US Congressional committees on whether UNRWA is in compliance with stricter guidelines that call for the removal of hateful material from its schools.
Yet the funneling of money through UNRWA and various other independent organizations merely frees up financing for Hamas to restock its weaponry and resume its construction of underground terror tunnels. Potentialities for the diversion of funds are guaranteed by corrupt Palestinian leaders, such as senior Hamas operative Ismail Haniyeh who, along with his entourage, spent over $1 million at a five-star hotel in Doha during recent clashes between Hamas and Israel.
The PA has also become adept at cosmetically altering its “pay for slay” methods. Under amended anti-terror financing laws, monthly disbursements to terrorists are prohibited by banks operating within PA-controlled areas. Today, illegal “pay for slay” payments are instead set up through post offices, while cryptocurrency has become a mechanism whereby Hamas can evade “terror sanctions.”
Simply put, this laundering of US tax dollars will end up abetting the Palestinians’ “pay for slay” scheme and leave millions of dollars in the coffers of Hamas and other terrorist groups operating within Gaza. As a result, President Biden’s willingness to dismantle the Taylor Force Act and enable the PA’s “cash for terror” program will end up costing the US and Israel dearly — both in dollars and in lives.
Irit Tratt is a freelance writer and pro-Israel advocate who resides in New York. Her pieces have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Algemeiner, and Israel Hayom.
A different version of this article was published at Israel Hayom.
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Author: Irit Tratt
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