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U.S. Approved More Than $80 Million for Promoting Peace and Democracy to Palestinians Before War

The State Department allocated $81,463,243 to programs focused on promoting peace, democracy and civic engagement in Palestine before war broke out on Oct. 7.
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

By: Robert Schmad, Daily Caller News Foundation

The State Department poured over $80 million into projects to prevent war in Palestine and to promote democracy and human rights in the years leading up to Hamas’ ongoing conflict with Israel, a Daily Caller News Foundation review of federal grants has found.

The United States spent at least $81,463,243 across the last three presidential administrations to promote human rights, civic engagement and peace in the Palestinian territories. Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 civilians, despite the tens of millions in aid sent to the region.

The Biden administration disbursed a $28,386 grant in September 2022 to “generate a hopeful and diverse women-led public discourse, which will prepare the Israeli and Palestinian societies towards a negotiated solution to the conflict,” according to a federal spending database. Another grant, this time for $5 million, was issued in September 2023 for a “democratic leadership activity” in Gaza.

A September 2021 State Department grant provided an additional $5 million to promote “civic participation and community engagement” in the West Bank and Gaza. An Obama-era grant from September 2010 spent $22,703,953 to “Reinvigorate civic participation in the Palestinian Authority[‘s] decision-making process.”

The Palestinian Authority is poised to pay out millions to the families of Hamas militants who died while carry out the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks against Israel.

A group of 17 GOP senators released a letter in 2021 calling on the Biden administration to “halt these expenditures until the State Department accounts for statutory restrictions and remedies known deficiencies in the distribution of such assistance, which have for years promoted and facilitated terrorism against Americans and Israelis.”

Aid payments “have not just failed but have been counterproductive, with the money facilitating terrorist incitement and making its way to terrorists,” according to the senators.

“U.S. assistance for Palestinians does not go to or through Hamas,” a State Department spokesperson told the DCNF. “These organizations fill a critical role in providing assistance that would otherwise be filled by terrorist organizations like Hamas,” the spokesperson continued.

“Our trusted partners and beneficiaries are subject to extensive vetting and oversight procedures to help prevent assistance from flowing to individuals or organizations that are affiliated with terrorists.”

The State Department found in 2021 that there was “a high risk Hamas could potentially derive indirect, unintentional benefit from U.S. assistance to Gaza” as well as “less but still some risk U.S. assistance would benefit other designated [terrorist] groups” in the West Bank, according to documents obtained by the Free Beacon. Experts at the Washington Institute were concerned about aid to Palestine being captured by terrorists back in 2007.

House Foreign Affairs Committee staff told the DCNF that Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, the committee’s chair, is concerned that the Biden administration has not provided sufficient assurances that future aid to Gaza will not be captured by Hamas.

“I also cannot support the additional $10 billion for humanitarian assistance without clarity on exactly how it would be used or assurances guardrails will be put in place so it doesn’t end up in the hands of Hamas terrorists or other bad actors,” McCaul said.

The State Department spent $2,195,368 between 2009 and 2017 to promote non-violence among Palestinians.

Another program, enacted by the Obama administration in 2009, spent $1,121,677 to “develop [a] child centered conflict mitigation program in three of the most violent areas of the Gaza strip.” A $1.2 million grant was disbursed in September 2021 to “promote support for a negotiated settlement to the conflict among Palestinians and Israelis by increasing belief in its viability among the demographic of young leaders” and “presenting a horizon for a different reality.”

A $1 million grant paid out in September 2016, near the end of the Obama administration, sought to promote peace in Palestine by engaging in “civil society cooperation for people with disabilities.” Obama also spent $4,849,088 to strengthen “independent democratic movements in the West Bank/Gaza through public opinion research and support to independent leaders.”

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza have not held legislative elections since 2006, according to Freedom House.

Biden’s State Department also spent $140,983 between July and September 2022 across four grants to promote women’s rights in the Palestinian territories.

One grant sought to “support gender inclusivity” in Palestine by setting up a summer camp and running a “social media awareness campaign.” Another grant was spent on “empowering 90 young women journalists in central and middle Gaza aged 22-25 years to write about gender issues and be aware of how to address gender issues in journalism.”

The other two grants focused on getting more women involved in civic life and empowering them through boxing classes.

The White House announced Wednesday that the United States would be “providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank.”

“If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, and it will end as a practical matter,” President Joe Biden said.

Related Story: Biden Admin Dismissed Concerns About Millions in Palestinian Aid Potentially Being Used for Terrorism: Report

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