Watchdog Files Lawsuit to Obtain Records Supporting State Department’s Decision to Fund Palestinian Authority
- January 17, 2022
Continued Delay of State Department Records Raises Concerns over Legal Foundation for Renewed Funding
Today, Protect the Public’s Trust announced it has filed suit in Federal court seeking to force the U.S. State Department to release documents in response to a more than eight-month-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Despite repeated efforts at outreach by PPT, State refuses to indicate when it will begin producing records.
PPT’s request, filed on May 13, 2021, asks for records related to the resumption of direct and indirect aid to the Palestinian Authority. Absent proper certification, this action may have violated the Taylor Force Act, passed by Congress in 2018, which bans non-humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless certain conditions are met, including ceasing payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens. According to media reports at the time State decided to resume the payments, the Department was “unable to certify” those conditions had been met.
In response to a series of follow-up inquiries by PPT, the State Department has stated it will be unable to complete the request until December 16, 2022, while refusing to commit to even an estimate of when it will begin to provide records. PPT asserts in the suit that State has failed to live up to its statutory obligations regarding the request, which has already been pending for many times the period allowed for federal agencies to provide a FOIA determination, and its only recourse is the last resort, litigation.
“The American public depends on transparency, never more so when matters of law and the lives of their countrymen and allies abroad may be at stake,” declared Michael Chamberlain, Director of Protect the Public’s Trust. “Sitting on timely information, while millions of additional taxpayer dollars possibly flow to activities prohibited under the law, flies in the face of the commitment government agencies owe to those they serve. Protect the Public’s Trust will continue our work to ensure agencies live up to their legal obligations and this starts with greater transparency.”