How much for Hamas? Biden’s State Department ‘desperately trying to move’ funding to Palestinians

How much for Hamas? Biden’s State Department ‘desperately trying to move’ funding to Palestinians

  • March 21, 2024

Michael Chamberlain, The Washington Times

At this writing — and to his credit — President Biden has remained, at least publicly, largely steadfast behind Israel’s right to neutralize Hamas and see justice done for its Oct. 7 atrocities.

The president’s support for our ally defies pressure from the usual international suspects and the left wing of his party. Unfortunately, it also defies the calls for a cease-fire from within his own government. A few officials in the State Department and other agencies have resigned over the policy. At the same time, hundreds of federal workers — both career and appointees — have lent their support to anonymous letters condemning the Jewish state.

Historically, such vocal dissent from a long-standing and official policy is unprecedented. In the context of the administration’s pre-Oct. 7 foreign policy and personnel, however, it’s unsurprising. When Mr. Biden took office, the Trump administration had cut off most monetary aid to the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip, including to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, known as UNWRA.

The government watchdog group Protect the Public’s Trust, or PPT, discovered from documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests that in March 2021, State Department officials acknowledged that the $360 million they wanted to send the Palestinians might be used to fund terror. But they sent it anyway.

“We assess there is a high-risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza,” read a draft of the request to the Treasury Department that the money be exempt from the Taylor Force Act. The Washington Free Beacon originally reported PPT’s discovery last August. After the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, the story exploded.

Further PPT scrutiny of the documents shows the laissez-faire attitude toward funding Palestinians was not uncommon in Mr. Biden’s State Department. In emails regarding a mandated report to Congress just days after the acknowledgment that Gaza aid would benefit Hamas, a State Department official states, “If the report looks good to you and you feel comfortable clearing, I’d be grateful. This report is a pre-obligation requirement for U.S. foreign assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, hence the push to get this out.” Another official stressed that “we’re desperately trying to move it today and want to prevent hold­ups.”

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