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US Announces $15,000,000 in Aid to Palestinians: Did the Taylor Force Act Mean Nothing?
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The Biden Administration’s U.N. ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, on March 24 announced at a meeting of the Security Council that the Biden Administration was giving $15 million dollars to the PA for “humanitarian aid.” A report on this development, both expected and deplorable, is here: “In first under Biden, US announces $15 million in aid for Palestinians,” by Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, March 25, 2021:
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield announced Thursday that Washington will send $15 million in COVID-related humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
The package will be the first such funds transferred under the Biden administration, which has vowed to restore financial assistance to the Palestinians that was cut almost entirely by former president Donald Trump.
With this assistance, the US Agency for International Development is supporting Catholic Relief Services’ COVID-19 response efforts in healthcare facilities and for vulnerable families in the West Bank and Gaza,” Thomas-Greenfield said in an address to the UN Security Council’s monthly briefing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, her first as envoy.
In addition, this assistance will support emergency food assistance programming to communities facing food insecurity, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This urgent, necessary aid is one piece of our renewed commitment to the Palestinian people. The aid will help Palestinians in dire need, which will bring more stability and security to both Israelis and Palestinians alike. That’s consistent with our interests and our values, and it aligns with our efforts to stamp out the pandemic and food insecurity worldwide,” she added.
A separate State Department statement also noted that the US has already donated $2 billion to the UN-backed COVAX initiative that works to vaccinate populations in developing countries. The Palestinians received their first shipment of inoculations from the program earlier this month.
It all sounds so admirable. COVID-19 aid? Who could object? And the aid would be going through Catholic Relief Services, which for many people signifies as good-samaritan an organization as one can find. What kind of person would want to prevent American aid from going to that group, so that it might give succor to suffering Palestinians? Who would wish to deny money for the vaccine, for “healthcare facilities” and for “emergency food assistance” to “vulnerable families”? Well, it’s the PA itself that has for years refused to spend money on health facilities, it’s the PA that has done little to remedy food insecurity, it’s the PA that, even after the pandemic had begun, failed to act, failed to buy a single dose of vaccine.
It’s the PA that has consistently denied its people the food and vaccines they needed; it’s the PA that chooses to spend so much of its money, about $350 million annually, on the “Pay-for-Slay” Program, that rewards past, and incentivizes future, acts of terrorism. It’s the PA that chose to build Mahmoud Abbas a $13 million mansion, and buy him his $50 million jet. It’s Mahmoud Abbas who during his entire tenure as President has managed to skim, along with his crooked cronies, hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money. Abbas himself has amassed a personal fortune of $400 million; his cronies count theirs in the millions. Shouldn’t we be asking Abbas and the PA to spend more aid money on health care, and food, and vaccines, and end the mismanagement and colossal corruption that makes life so difficult for ordinary Palestinians, instead of continuing to overlook all that?
Plans to send the $15 million aid package were first reported earlier this month by The National, which retrieved an internal Biden administration memo that outlined its initial policy approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Taylor Force Act passed by the US Congress in 2018 bars Washington from sending aid that will directly benefit the Palestinian Authority as long as Ramallah continues sending regular stipends to those convicted of acts of terrorism. However, the humanitarian aid announced by Thomas-Greenfield would not violate the legislation, which the Biden administration has vowed to uphold.
How can the Biden administration maintain that giving this money to the PA does not violate the Taylor Force Act? Does it hope no one will be so hard-hearted as to demand the application of the provisions of the TFA, and deny the Palestinians COVID-19 aid? Of course no one is denying the PA the possibility of buying vaccines. All the PA has to do is take just part of the money it now spends on its Pay-For-Slay program – about $350 million a year — and use it to buy vaccines. It’s the PA’s choice. The Taylor Force Act does not contain a special exemption for aid that the Biden people describe as “humanitarian.” The TFA text is quite clear: all American economic aid to the PA, whatever its stated purpose, is prohibited as long as the PA’s “Pay-For-Slay” program is in place.
The Biden Administration has “vowed to uphold” the Taylor Force Act, and in the same breath announces it will give $15 million to the PA even though its Pay-For-Slay program continues. Perhaps what the Biden people want us to believe is that “humanitarian” aid is different from “economic” aid. This is Jesuitical casuistry. Money given that is called “humanitarian” aid is not distinguishable from, but merely a subset of, “economic” aid.
The $15 million package also mirrors the COVID-related assistance sent to the West Bank and Gaza in the Trump administration’s final months.
The Trump Administration, when the pandemic had begun, sent $5 million to the PA. In doing so, it did indeed violate the Taylor Force Act. but it was such a small, symbolic amount, that one might excuse it with the rationale of de minimis non curat lex. The Trump people may have wanted, as the pandemic loomed, to nudge the PA into rethinking its Pay-for-Slay program, but the PA refused, and there were no follow-up payments. That one-time payment should not now be invoked to justify a much larger transfer of American aid, which begins with this first installment of $15 million, amidst promises of much more aid to come, including a renewal of by the Americans of annual payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to UNRWA.
The Taylor Force Act is now being violated by the Biden Administration. There is no other way to look at it. And more aid to the PA will mean ever more violations of TFA. Does anyone care? Yes, of course. You do. And I do. But what about Congress? Will the Democrats who now control both houses of Congress demand that the Democratic President enforce the TFA that a previous Congress had approved? Or will they overlook the violation of the TFA by Biden? Will calling this renewal of American funds to the PA “humanitarian aid” be enough of a fig leaf to prevent the application of the provisions of the Taylor Force Act? It certainly looks that way.
Before the Trump administration began tightening the screws on the PA in 2018 for refusing to engage with its peace efforts, the United States was the single largest donor country to the PA.
The US paid hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the PA’s creditors, such as the Israeli state utility companies from which the Palestinians purchase water and electricity. It also paid for training for the PA’s security forces and numerous infrastructure projects.
Washington also gave hundreds of millions a year in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency — known as UNRWA — which is in charge of administering the daily needs of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East. The Biden administration has stated that it plans to restart funding to UNWRA as well.
The UN envoy [Linda Thomas-Greenfield] used the opportunity to address what she viewed as the Security Council’s disproportionate focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “There are other issues in the region that are threats to international peace and security and deserve more of this council’s attention,” she said.
Her remark about “other issues in the region” to which insufficient attention is paid at the U.N. is both obvious and sure to go largely unheeded at the Security Council. Here are some of those insufficiently addressed issues: Civil wars in Yemen, Syria, and Libya. A collapsed economy in Hezbollah-ruled Lebanon. An aggressive Iran working simultaneously to build a nuclear weapon and to create, through proxies and allies – the Houthis in Yemen, the Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, the Syrian army in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, a “Shi’a cresecent” from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. Those are some of the “other issues in the region” that are given less attention while the focus remains, always, on Israel and its many malefactions.
The monstrous regiment of Israel-haters at the U.N., and those countries that simply go along with those haters because it’s diplomatically the path of least resistance, will continue to ensure that more critical attention to given to, and calumny heaped upon, the mighty empire of Israel than to any other country, at the General Assembly, at the Security Council, and especially, at the U.N. Human Rights Council. The UNHRC has passed more resolutions (90) denouncing Israel in the last few years, than similar resolutions passed (70) about all the 191 other countries put together.
“Let me be clear,” Thomas-Greenfield added, going on to reiterate a sentiment she conveyed at her Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year. “Not all criticism of Israel is illegitimate. But too often, that criticism veers dangerously into anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism, as with all forms of hate, works directly against the cause of peace. So, we will vigorously oppose one-sided efforts.”
In the rest of her speech, Thomas-Greenfield repeated some of the Biden administration’s already announced policies on the conflict. She said the US would continue to support Israel while also advancing a two-state solution that would allow Palestinians to fulfill their right to self-determination.
Would it be churlish to remind Thomas-Greenfield, and all the peace-processors in the Biden Administration, that as part of their “right to self-determination” the Palestinians include their right to undermine, and ultimately to dominate and destroy, the Jewish state? Hamas and Fatah differ on timing and tactics, but not on the ultimate goal.
She urged both sides to avoid unilateral steps that would make a two-state solution more difficult to achieve. This, she said, included settlement expansion, home demolitions, incitement to violence, providing compensation for individuals imprisoned for acts of terrorism and all acts of violence.
“Settlement expansion” by Israel is deplored as threat to a “two-state solution.” But those settlements are to be actively encouraged, according to the Mandate for Palestine, which the Biden Administration seems to have trouble remembering or, which is more likely, and even worse, perhaps doesn’t know its contents or understand its continuing relevance. According to Article 6 of the Mandate, the Mandatory authority, Great Britain, was obligated to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land.” What land? The land set out in the Mandate maps, the land that was to become the future Jewish National Home. To wit: the land from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south, and from the Jordan River in the east to the Mediterranean in the west. That meant that Judea and Samaria – renamed the “West Bank” by Jordan in 1950 — was to be open to Jewish settlement. In 1967, Israel was able to exercise its pre-existing right to create those settlements throughout the “West Bank.” Inexplicably, almost everyone wants to forget about the Palestine Mandate, and to pretend that some sort of legal significance ought to be given to the 1949 armistice lines, though these were never recognized borders, and only reflected where the armies of Israel and the Arabs stood when the guns fell silent on a certain day in 1949.
Thomas-Greenfield and the Administration of which she is a part are hoping that Congress will not object to what they are calling “humanitarian aid” being given to the PA; they are starting small, with a $15 million payment, to see if that amount passes muster, and if so, then will proceed with their tactic of “first a little, thence to more,” until hundreds of millions of dollars in so-called “humanitarian aid” are again given to the Palestinians, who will still have their Pay-For-Slay program in place. Taylor Force will have been undermined, even as the Administration preposterously claims to be “upholding” it. And Joe Biden, as he lies abed a’nights thinking of all the poor Palestinians his massive renewal of aid will have helped, can complacently think to himself “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Don’t talk to him about the Taylor Force Act; he”ll cover his ears.
And the spectacle of terrorists and their families continuing to be so hugely rewarded for their murderous attacks on Israelis will continue to inspire other Palestinians to go and do likewise. The Israelis will thus pay, in lives destroyed or ended, for the naivete and fatuity of the Biden Administration.
First published in Jihad Watch.