The State Department went ahead with plans to provide millions in aid to Palestinians, despite knowing there was a “high risk” that funding would be used for the terrorist group Hamas, according to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The Trump administration halted funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestinian government, in 2018, arguing that the funding was often used by Hamas to fund terrorist attacks against Israel, according to Reuters. In 2021, however, the Biden administration restarted the funding after requesting an exemption from the Treasury Department that would allow the State Department to grant over $85 million in aid, despite admitting that there was a very “high risk” that the money would fall into the hands of terrorists, according to the FOIA documents obtained by the Free Beacon. (RELATED: Palestinians Activists Demand Israel Not Be Included In U.S. Waiver Program)
“Due to its overall strength and level of control over Gaza, we assess there is a high-risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza,” the State Department said in its request. “There is less but still some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated groups.”
The department said that it would “take appropriate steps to mitigate” the funds from going to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups, according to the documents. U.S. lawmakers have criticized the department and other agencies for not being thorough enough in vetting Palestinian schools, nonprofits and other organizations for ties to terrorism.
In 2017, lawmakers passed the Taylor Force Act, named after U.S. Army officer Taylor Force, who was murdered by Hamas in 2016, to prohibit U.S. funding from being given to the PA unless it ended its affiliations with terrorists, according to the legislation. The act also requires the PA to end its “pay to slay” program that rewards families of terrorists for attacks against Israel before it can receive U.S. aid.
The U.S. is currently facing a lawsuit by Force’s father, Stuart Force, for continuing to give over half a billion in aid to the PA even though the government continues to enforce its “pay to slay” program.
Michael Chamberlain, director of Protect the Public’s Trust, who requested the documents, told the Free Beacon that the records appeared to show the administration looking for ways to override “bipartisan effort to prevent American taxpayer dollars from funding terrorists and rewarding terrorism.”
“But here it appears State Department officials were trying to get around the law’s restrictions and send resources in a manner that even they thought was likely to result in funds ending up in the hands of a group designated as a terrorist organization,” Chamberlain said.
The State Department, the Department of the Treasury and Protect The Public Trust did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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