Republican Senators Oppose Palestinian Aid in Letter to Blinken
(Bloomberg) -- A group of Republican senators sent a letter to the Biden administration urging it to halt aid to the Palestinians until several conditions can be met to ensure the support isn’t going to terrorists.
“We call on you to halt these expenditures until the State Department accounts for statutory restrictions and remedies known deficiencies in the distribution of such assistance, which have for years promoted and facilitated terrorism against Americans and Israelis,” the senators wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The letter comes after the Biden administration restarted aid to the Palestinians that had been frozen during President Donald Trump’s tenure. That includes about $100 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development to support Covid-19 recovery as well as peace-building programs and aid to address basic needs, according to a statement from USAID on Wednesday.
“U.S.-funded programs have better developed the provision of public services; improved the functioning of local governance; alleviated human suffering; increased economic opportunities; and supported civil society and youth,” according to the statement.
The letter, which was led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz along with more than a dozen colleagues, cites a March 19 Government Accountability Office report that found that USAID “did not consistently ensure” that assistance would not land in the hands of terrorist groups during the fiscal years 2015-2019. The letter asks the State Department to implement the changes recommended by the report.
It also asks the department to certify to Congress that the assistance doesn’t violate the 2018 Taylor Force Act, which restricts funding for programs in the region under certain conditions.
“Instead the Biden‐Harris administration should focus on the necessary programs Congress has consistently envisioned, and for which it has appropriated resources and carved out exceptions from restrictions on assistance, including those related to critical medical and wastewater sanitation programs that the Palestinian people immediately need,” the senators conclude.
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