The Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center, representing 24 Americans living in Israel, filed a civil action lawsuit against the State Department on Tuesday claiming that the U.S. government is funding Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza.
The suit, Bernstein vs. Clinton,which was filed in the district court for Washington, D.C., claims that the State Department has failed to observe congressional safeguards, transparency, and reporting requirements in its funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and United Nations Refugee Worker’s Administration (UNRWA).
It alleges that, as a result, American taxpayer money has ended up in the coffers of terrorist organizations like Hamas.
The twenty-four American citizens living in Israel, some of whom have been victims of terrorism, are the type of people the funding safeguards sought to protect, according to the center.
“They are fearful that the money that is going to the Palestinian Authority eventually winds up in the hands of the terrorist organizations that can be facilitated to carry out attacks against them,” Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv, the director of the center and one of the lawyers on the case, told The Daily Caller.
“So they find themselves in a very weird situation where their tax money is going actually to attacks against them,” she added. The suit asks the department to either stop sending money or make sure it complies with the law.
According to the Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center, the State Department has given over $4 billion to Palestinians through USAID since the Oslo Accords in 1993, and they claim portions have illegally ended up with terrorists. In the last four years, the center notes, average aid to Palestine has been $600 million annually. An additional $200 million in funding went to UNRWA in 2008 and 2009, and the body subsequently donated $500 million to recipients in the West Bank and Gaza.
The suit asks the court to examine the State Department’s observance of funding safeguards and end aid to the PA until the department is in compliance with all the funding regulations.
Darshan-Leitner is optimistic about potential for success in the suit and says that, given the lax transparency requirements on fund recipients, she doubts the State Department could tell where all the money is or has gone.
“U.S. money should not go to terrorism, it is against the law,” she said.
A State Department spokesperson told TheDC that the department does not comment on pending litigation.