WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Thursday rejected allegations from Republican lawmakers that resuming U.S. aid to the Palestinians would violate the Taylor Force act, legislation that limits U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families.
"In administering aid, the Biden-Harris administration will fully comply with U.S. law, including the Taylor Force Act," a State Department spokesperson told Haaretz.
Republican lawmakers told the Washington Free Beacon that the resumption of aid, first outlined earlier this week by a U.S. representative at the United Nations Security Council, would violate the Taylor Force Act, named for a Vanderbilt University graduate student and former U.S. Army officer stabbed to death in Jaffa by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016.
"The resumption of any U.S foreign assistance that indirectly funds the Palestinian Authority’s pay-for-slay terrorist program would violate U.S. law, betray our Israeli partners, and put Americans living in or visiting Israel in harm’s way," Sen. Tom Cotton said.
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Mills told the Security Council earlier this week that the U.S. intends to reopen Palestinian diplomatic missions shuttered by the Trump administration and restore U.S. aid to the Palestinians in order to create a stable environment, rather than strictly doing favors for Palestinian leadership.
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Under Trump, Washington cut some $360 million in annual funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency, leading to tens of thousands of Palestinians no longer getting food aid or basic health services. "We do not do these steps as a favor to the Palestinian leadership," Mills said. "U.S. assistance benefits millions of ordinary Palestinians and helps to preserve a stable environment that benefits both Palestinians and Israelis."
Most of the money was supposed to support humanitarian and economic projects in the West Bank and Gaza, and was not meant to go directly to the Palestinian Authority. The U.S. government's development agency, USAID, has provided more than $5.5 billion to the Palestinians since 1994 for infrastructure, health, education, governance and humanitarian aid programs, all intended to underpin the eventual creation of an independent state.
In 2019, Trump shut down the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, saying that the Palestinian leadership had "not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel."