On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that his administration has designated $235 million to fund projects in the West Bank and Gaza and resumed funding for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). President Donald Trump had cut off such payments in order to avoid financing the Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund, which rewards the families of Palestinians killed, injured, or imprisoned while carrying out violence against Israel.
A group of more than 1,500 Orthodox Jewish rabbis condemned the move, warning that Biden’s restoration of funding would effectively bankroll terrorism in the Palestinian Authority.
“It is unconscionable that the Biden administration would abandon the successful pro-peace policy agenda of its predecessor,” Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Israel regional vice president at the Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), said in a statement. “The Biden administration has chosen to support organizations that continue to encourage and reward acts of terror and, thus, have not shown a hint of necessary reform.”
Pruzansky noted that “three Israelis were murdered in 2020. Fortunately, that is the lowest number since the 1940s. But if that now rises, the current administration will be directly implicated.”
In a separate statement to PJ Media, CJV Managing Director Rabbi Yaakov Menken insisted that Biden’s Palestine funding violates the Taylor Force Act, a law that stops U.S. aid to the PA until the PA ceases to pay stipends through the martyr’s fund. Trump signed the Taylor Force Act in 2018 after it passed with strong bipartisan support.
“The administration may say that this funding doesn’t violate the Taylor Force Act, but the PA will now be able to redirect money from other areas to its ‘martyr’ fund,” Menken told PJ Media. “The Obama administration might have pled ignorance, but the current administration knows that more money will now be available to support and reward terror, yet demanded nothing in return. It’s both irrational and disgraceful.”
“Every global terror organization is delighted to see President Biden in power,” Menken added.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley championed the revocation of UNWRA funding, suggesting the agency perpetuated Palestinian poverty and questioning whether or not the aid recipients truly are refugees. Pompeo claimed UNRWA is “riddled with waste, fraud, [and] concerns of support to terrorism.”
Some Republicans have already argued that the Palestinian aid violates the Taylor Force Act and the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act.
Trump achieved historic Middle East peace deals between Israel and Arab states by circumventing the PA, which had long represented a logjam in the process. Tragically, Biden is throwing a wrench in Trump’s historic legacy, and restoring the funding that incentivized anti-Israel terrorism.