By James Phillips
Fox News analyst David Asman asked a provocative question in a recent blog post: Is President Obama funding terrorism by offering to provide $400 million of humanitarian aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza? The President made the offer in a meeting last week with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who lost authority in Gaza after a bloody Hamas coup in 2007. The aid package is aimed at improving living conditions in Gaza and strengthening the Palestinian Authority, which is open to negotiations with Israel, relative to Hamas, which refuses to recognize the Jewish state and remains explicitly committed to Israel’s destruction.
The administration promises that none of the aid will be diverted for illicit purposes. Asman disagrees:
But we’ve seen this movie before, many times. We know what happens when so-called “humanitarian aid” goes to areas controlled by terrorists. A good portion of the money always finds a way to Swiss bank accounts or to fund more terrorist activity. In the case of the late PLO chief Yasser Arafat, money meant for poor Palestinians went to his Swiss bank accounts and to other terrorists.
In recent years U.S. aid for the Palestinians has become increasingly controversial due to the collapse of peace negotiations and continued Palestinian terrorism against Israel. The Heritage Foundation has argued in several publications that aid to the Palestinians ostensibly aimed at humanitarian purposes ends up subsidizing the brutal rule of Hamas in Gaza.
Congress should closely examine the administration’s plans for Gaza aid and determine whether aid is really needed on such a huge scale. Congress also needs to take action to scrutinize the administration’s aid plans to make sure that there is absolutely no chance that funds provided by American taxpayers end up being pocketed by members of terrorist groups–a development that would violate section 301c of the Foreign Assistance Act. Both houses of Congress should hold hearings and exercise their oversight powers to make sure that all aid to the Palestinians is dispensed via closely vetted NGOs, not through corrupted U.N. bodies operating at cross-purposes with U.S. foreign policy goals.
A lasting peace between Israeli and the Palestinians is possible only after Hamas has been defeated and its harsh ideology is discredited. Until then, providing aid to Gaza frees up Hamas funds that can be diverted to greater terrorist efforts and insulates the militant organization from the disastrous consequences of its own hostile policies.