On October 8, 1997 the United States State Department designated the rejectionist group Hamas a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Other Palestinian terrorist groups, such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the PFLP-General Command were similarly designated. The designation of FTO makes it unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide “material support or resources” to the designated terrorist organization.
However, a recent lawsuit brought by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli civil rights organization, has brought to light the disturbing prospect that the State Department might be violating its own laws. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 24 Americans against Hillary Clinton and the State Department, alleges that U.S. money is doled out to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United Nations Refugee Worker’s Administration (UNRWA) without proper oversight and that the State Department has failed to adhere to congressional safeguards and reporting requirements. This of course raises the distinct and ominous possibility that monies allocated toward humanitarian efforts have found their way into Hamas’s coffers.
Since the mid-1990s the United States has provided the Palestinian Authority with more than four-billion dollars in aid. Moreover, the United States is the largest single donor nation to the UNRWA, providing that agency with more than four-billion in contributions since its creation in the early 1950s.
The Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 stipulated that the Palestinians would undertake a commitment to renounce violence and terrorism. However, far from renouncing terrorism, the Oslo Accords ushered in a reign of terror against Israelis not experienced since the founding of the State. Moreover, among the victims of the Palestinian campaign of terror were more than 50 Americans killed and some ninety injured.
Palestinian malfeasance with respect to U.S. aid is well documented and reports highlighting misallocation of U.S. funds have repeatedly surfaced throughout the years. In July 2012, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that PA President Mahmoud Abbas deposited thirteen-million dollars into a secret Jordanian bank account, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
But PA malfeasance is on full display in even more noxious forms. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the Palestinian Authority is spending five-million dollars a month in salaries for 5,500 terrorists imprisoned by Israeli authorities on various terror related offenses. This misappropriation of U.S. aid directly contravenes congressional oversight regulations. The Palestinian Authority routinely glorifies Palestinian terrorists guilty of carrying out the most barbaric of crimes. As recent as November 22, senior PA figure Nabil Shaath showered the now deceased arch Hamas terrorist, Ahmed Al-Ja’abari with adoration and praise referring to the murderer as a hero and a martyr. As the Palestinian Authority moves closer toward full reconciliationwith Hamas and cozies up to those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the lines between the two groups become increasingly blurred.
The State Department’s failure to adhere to minimal congressional oversight requirements has resulted in a kafkaesque like scenario whereby U.S. taxpayer money is being used, directly and indirectly, to finance terrorist operations against U.S. citizens. Congressional efforts to halt aid to the Palestinian Authority in response to provocative, unilateral PA actions have been stymied by the Obama administration.
Continued U.S. aid to the PA and UNRWA without proper safeguards and transparency facilitates terror against U.S. citizens and its allies. Why this absurd situation continues to fester is a matter that will hopefully be addressed through the legal efforts of Shurat HaDin. It is however disheartening to note that the needless deaths of innocent civilians, Americans and Israelis, did nothing to stir the State Department to act and that legal action was required to bring this most pressing matter to fore.
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