Senator Bill Hagerty says the Biden decision to resume taxpayer aid to the Palestinians is illegal and will give millions to the Hamas terror group.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
Republican Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee returned from his mission to Israel and said Thursday that the Biden administration decision to resume funding to the Palestinians is both a violation of U.S. law and will be a boost to the Iran-backed Hamas terror group that just staged another war with Israel.
Hagerty told the Washington Free Beacon that the Israeli leaders he met with are concerned that the Biden administration plan to pump $100 million in aid into Gaza will end up in Hamas’ coffers, especially after the State Department recently admitted that it can’t guarantee that U.S. taxpayer dollars will not end up in Hamas hands.
“Hamas is taking their toll, they’re involved in everything that moves in and out of the Gaza Strip,” Hagerty told the paper. “They will redirect [the aid money]. If you send in money and materials for reconstruction, the concrete that’s being utilized there in Gaza is actually being used to build tunnels for [Hamas], not rebuilding houses.”
Hagerty, a member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in Jerusalem with fellow Senator Ted Cruz and held talks with top Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
The two senators also got briefed by senior IDF commanders on the damage caused by the rockets attacks on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in which over 4,000 rockets were fired at Israeli towns and cities.
With the Iron Dome defense system successfully intercepting more than 90% of the rockets that would have hit population centers, Hagerty and Cruz are pushing the government to fast-track emergency funding for Israel to replace the interceptor rockets that saved countless lives.
There is no way the administration can “provide aid to them under current conditions and not have Hamas benefit from this,” Hagerty said. “What’s more than likely to happen, whether it’s Hamas or the Islamic Jihad, they are going to benefit from the aid we are flowing into that area.”
Hagerty noted that the aid to the Palestinians is in violation of the Taylor Force Act, the bipartisan bill that prohibits American tax dollars going to the Palestinian Authority unless it stops its policy of paying reward money to terrorists and their families.
The Palestinians have so far refused to stop the practice, and by law American aid should not be flowing until they do so. The U.S. legislation is named for U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force who was murdered in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist while on a graduate school trip to Israel. Force’s murderer was subsequently shot and killed by Israeli police, qualifying his family for a lifetime monthly cash payment from the Palestinian Authority.
Hagerty also noted he learned that several Arab nations are withholding their own aid money to Gaza for the same reason – they fear the funds will find their way to Hamas bank accounts.
“The leadership in Israel said, ‘You’ll notice that Arab countries are going to have a very hard time doing this and America should think very hard about it, too,” Hagerty said.
In Jerusalem, the senator also learned about Iran’s central role in arming, funding, and issuing orders to Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terror groups. The Israelis, he said, are very concerned that any sanctions relief on Iran by the Biden administration will result in more cash for funding terror in the region.
“Are the people in Israel concerned, the leadership, with our movement toward Iran? Absolutely. They were very clear to me that Iran is the existential question here,” Hagerty said. “At the root of all of this is the Biden administration’s stated movement back toward the flawed Iran deal that will put millions of dollars back in the hands of Iran and embolden our enemies.”
Hagerty also noted that the calls within the Democratic Party to end the U.S.-Israel relationship and cut funding to Israel are being talked about in Israel.
“It is quite concerning to leaders in Israel, leaders of all stripes that I met with are quite concerned” about the the split in the Democratic Party about Israel, Hagerty said.
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