$100 Million To Gaza? Incentivizing Terrorism As We Match Iranian Aid
By Ben Johnson/The Washington StandOctober 21, 2023
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Amid the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust, President Joe Biden has pledged to send Hamas-controlled areas of the Palestinian Authority the same amount of U.S. taxpayer funding that Iran sends to Hamas each year. The pledge constitutes another of Biden's "numerous idiocies" that imperils the Middle East, according to one U.S. senator.
Biden announced during his one-day visit to Israel on Wednesday that he has proposed "$100 million in new U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance in both Gaza and the West Bank. This money will support more than 1 million displaced and conflict-affected Palestinians, including emergency needs in Gaza."
The request comes separately from another anticipated $100 billion aid request, which Biden described as "unprecedented": $10 billion for Israel, $60 billion for Ukraine, and the rest for Taiwan and other Pacific nations.
The Palestinian funding would not require Hamas to release any of the Americans currently held hostage.
Sending a $100 million aid package to Hamas-controlled territory "adds to the numerous, numerous idiocies that this administration has pursued," said Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" early Wednesday evening. "I haven't heard a word from the administration about how they're going to ensure that this money actually goes to people in need and not to terrorists."
Hawley joined a chorus of Republican disapproval. Former President Donald Trump said Biden's moral compass seemed broken. "He's over in Israel, and he's giving money to the Palestinians. I think it's very inappropriate," Trump told reporters Wednesday. Florida governor and 2024 presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis said he felt no doubt the "humanitarian assistance" "is going to be commandeered by Hamas," so "I would not send that money."
The amount of the aid package also raised eyebrows. Iran "provides up to $100 million annually in combined support to Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command," according to a 2020 State Department report. Biden has pledged to give Hamas officials "the same amount of money Iran gives Hamas every single year," noted Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.). "There is now no difference between Joe Biden and the Ayatollah of Iran."
The European Union also spent $100 million over five years on water pipelines to serve Gaza's civilian population; in 2021, an online video showed the military wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, converting the pipes into rocket launchers. E.U. Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi announced Monday the coalition would suspend all aid to the Palestinian territories -- a decision that was reversed five hours later.
Since money is fungible, Biden "might as well have announced $100 million in aid to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad," said Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) agreed the "humanitarian assistance" will amount to nothing more than a "resupply for Hamas terrorists. President Biden continues to embolden Iran and its terror proxies."
The international agency that most directly serves displaced Palestinians, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), has also accused Palestinian officials of looting foreign aid. UNRWA reported Monday that Hamas authorities stole food and medical supplies intended for its clients. Although UNRWA later deleted the social media posts and denied the burglary, Axios reporter Barak Ravid confirmed that UNRWA officials "tell me this incident did happen."
The latest Palestinian foreign aid request came as voters' disapproval of Biden reached an all-time high of 58%, according to a survey released by CNBC on Wednesday. Hoover Institution scholar Victor Davis Hanson worried the proposed package would incentivize further terrorist actions. "We're basically saying to the Palestinians, 'Go kill Israeli children and women, and we're going to reward you with $100 million,'" he told Laura Ingraham on Wednesday. "It's really a morally bankrupt administration."
As tensions explode, DeSantis urged a word of caution against entangling the United States in another Middle Eastern war, rejecting the call of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to destroy Iran's oil infrastructure if Hezbollah attacks Israel. "As commander-in-chief, you don't have the luxury of bellicose rhetoric like that. It's in U.S. interests that Israel wins the fight against Hamas. I don't think we necessarily want to instigate a broader war throughout the Middle East," he said. "You've got to be judicious, you've got to be very measured as the president of the United States."
Although DeSantis rejected calls to put "general ground troops" in Israel, "I would have American resources to rescue Americans" held hostage by Hamas.
Biden spent less time on the ground than he intended, finding his visit unexpectedly shortened by his would-be partners in the Arab world. Biden had planned to travel from Tel Aviv to Amman, Jordan, to meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
But the Islamic delegation refused to meet with Biden after the destruction of a Baptist hospital in Gaza on Israel; U.S. and Israeli intelligence pinned the explosion on a faulty rocket fired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Saudi Arabia also backed away from Biden's efforts to sign a mutual defense agreement, which the Saudis hope will require U.S. troops to go to war if Saudi Arabia is attacked.
Being snubbed by the Islamic bloc shows the disintegration of U.S. prestige and influence under the 46th president, said Hanson. "This is much worse than 1980 with Jimmy Carter," when Iranians stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days -- releasing them moments after Ronald Reagan's inauguration. "You have a complete meltdown of U.S. deterrence throughout the world," said Hanson.