WASHINGTON—Millions of U.S. foreign aid dollars would be redirected to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system if the Palestinian Authority (PA) resumes using the funds to support families of terrorists killed in attacks on America’s strongest ally in the Mideast, under legislation proposed on Sept. 19.
The Iron Dome Reinforcement Act of 2019 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.).
“The U.S. gives millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority (PA) every year, and it’s estimated that they spend at least 7 to 10 percent of their yearly budget as payouts and bonuses to the families of dead terrorists,” Budd said in a statement explaining his proposal.
Budd said the PA has received more than $5 billion in bilateral economic and nonlethal foreign assistance from the United States since the mid-1990s under President Bill Clinton, including $65 million in 2018 alone.
“That works out to as much as $6.5 million in U.S. taxpayer money potentially being handed over to terrorists and their families,” Budd continued. “The idea of my tax dollars going to fund terrorism is repugnant to me … it makes my skin crawl to think your money might be used for that activity.”
He said that “the Palestinian Authority has notoriously lacked transparency with their annual budgets, but Congress has the power of the purse and is ultimately responsible for where taxpayer dollars go.”
Budd’s proposal requires submission every six months of a certification “by the Secretary of State to Congress that contains a determination of the Secretary that the Palestinian Authority, including any ministry, agency, or instrumentality, or any official acting on behalf of any such ministry, agency, or instrumentality, and the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the case may be, has ceased the payment of any bonuses, financial compensation, or any other benefit not generally or otherwise available to the Palestinian population at large to the families of Palestinians killed in connection with … conspiring to commit an act of terrorism or the commission of an act of terrorism,” according to the bill text.
The same certification process would be applied to U.S. funds going to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was the forerunner to the PA and remains a part of the territory’s governing structure.
“It’s amazing that we even need a bill like this. Taxpayers deserve more oversight on where these funds go,” Budd said.
If the certification can’t be provided, then all of the funds would “be transferred and made available to the Secretary of Defense to provide assistance to the Government of Israel for the procurement of the Iron Dome defense system to counter short-range rocket threats.”
Since 2015, Israel has faced “a wave of terror perpetrated by individuals, many of them very young, inspired by vicious incitement in Palestinian social and traditional media and urged on by the Palestinian leadership,” according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The Palestinian Authority goes so far as to pay convicted terrorists a monthly allowance–the more serious the offense, the more money they receive. The families of terrorists killed by Israeli security forces during a terror attack receive a monthly ‘pension’ as well,” the ministry stated.
Eighty-four Israelis have been killed in the attacks and more than 1,300 have been wounded. The attacks have included 206 stabbings, 234 shootings, 75 vehicular attacks, and one vehicular bombing, according to the ministry.
Israel’s Iron Dome system includes ground- and sea-to-air missiles that are radar-guided to incoming targets, including enemy rockets and artillery shells.
Helicopters and drones can also be destroyed with the system that now has 10 batteries deployed, with as many as 80 interceptors in each launcher, and will include 15 batteries when it is completed.
Fifty-five percent of the system’s components are manufactured in the United States under contract by Raytheon. The U.S. military reportedly has purchased two batteries.