We were bemused by the announcement by the Biden Administration that it will resume providing economic aid to the Palestinians that had been cut off by President Donald Trump pursuant to the Taylor Force Act. That 2018 law was named after an American soldier who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was killed by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel. It prohibited US aid to the Palestinians until the State Department issues a report documenting that the Palestinian Authority had ceased providing stipends to the families of incarcerated terrorists or terrorists killed in the course of their terrorist activities, and had taken proactive steps to counter incitement to violence against Israel.
However, the most recent report the State Department issued on the Palestinians specifically notes that the Palestinian Authority was not in compliance and also notes that the “Biden-Harris” Administration has made clear its intent to restart assistance to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, the Biden Administration’s position is that it can restore aid notwithstanding the lack of Taylor Force compliance because its goal is to provide humanitarian assistance, rebuild trust with the Palestinians that was undermined by the Trump Administration, economically stabilize the PA, and advance the moribund peace process with Israel.
Yet nowhere in the Taylor Force is there any mention of the above exceptions – which is to say that the Biden Administration intends to openly and flagrantly ignore the unambiguous requirements of an American statute.
We point to this not out of political interest but out of very practical concerns. The Trump Administration had insisted to the Palestinians that aid would not be resumed until there was compliance with applicable American law. The president’s hands were tied, so to speak. Now they’re being told, not necessarily so – even even American laws can be bent if that’s what a president wants. Why then should Mahmoud Abbas and company not be encouraged in their recalcitrance, and to believe even more strongly than before that an American foreign policy decision – even one driven by law – is never final and can simply be ignored?
We think this is something Mr. Biden should think about long and hard.