Why Biden Is Wrong to Send Money to Gaza

October 20, 2023 Topic: Gaza Strip Region: Middle East Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Gaza StripHamasIranTerrorismIsraelJoe Biden

Why Biden Is Wrong to Send Money to Gaza

Now is the time for the Palestinians’ most loyal supporters to ante up for their friends, and for Hamas’ underwriters to pay for the damage their proxies are inflicting.

Visiting Israel in a show of solidarity with the Jewish state, US President Joe Biden also announced a “$100 million of new US funding for humanitarian assistance in both Gaza and the West Bank.” So, let’s get this straight: Iran-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) destroy Gaza and the US taxpayer fixes it up? The right call is for the Palestinians’ ardent rhetorical advocates in the Arab world to pick up this bill. Or better still, for Iran to pay for what it has destroyed.

There should be no doubt that there are urgent humanitarian needs among the Palestinians. In addition to the rank thievery and mismanagement of the last decade and a half under both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank – thievery that has devastated the Palestinian economy — both Hamas and PIJ have done immense damage with rocket fire that has missed its intended targets in Israel and hit its subjects in Gaza and the West Bank. And of course, Israel severely limits trade, traffic and access to Gaza under Hamas rule.

However, the most immediate need for Gazans is to escape the ongoing war. Despite warnings from Israel to evacuate the northern half of the Gaza Strip, Hamas has prevented tens of thousands from leaving, blocking roads, stealing cars and otherwise terrorizing Palestinians into holding still. In addition, neighboring Jordan and Egypt have explicitly told Palestinians their borders are closed. Both have repeatedly insisted there will be no welcome mat to Palestinians fleeing the Israelis and their Hamas tyrants.

A few points: Jordan, which canceled a multilateral meeting with Biden over the PIJ bombing of the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, is nominally an important, and legally a major non-NATO ally of the United States. That status gives the kingdom access to a panoply of defense and economic benefits. Per the Congressional Research Service, US aid to Jordan has tripled in the last 15 years. Defense and foreign aid to Jordan through 2020 totaled $26.4 billion. A seven-year agreement commits the US to $1.45 billion a year in aid through 2029.

But hey, sure, slam the door in the president’s face.  

Then Egypt: since 1946, the US taxpayer has coughed up $87 billion to Egypt. It’s now getting $1.4 billion a year in economic and military aid. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi was part of the canceled summit with the president.

Qatar has been Gaza’s most important cash source in recent years. It has done so, it should be underscored, with Israel’s tacit encouragement. Billions have been pledged, though, as is normal in the neighborhood, it’s never quite clear how much was delivered.  Some of the money came in suitcases. The CIA World Fact Book labels Qatar the “richest country in the world,” with a per capita income of over $100,000 per person. This is the same Qatar that hosts the US Al Udeid Air Base. The same Qatar that hosted the Taliban and al Qaeda. The same Qatar that bankrolls al Jazeera, which, in addition to helping Hamas target Israel (per Israeli accusations), also helped al Qaeda target US soldiers in Iraq. The same Qatar that said good-bye to US Secretary of State Tony Blinken one day, and welcome the head of Hamas and the President of Iran the next (last week).

And finally, there’s Iran. Since Joe Biden became President, Iran has lived high on the hog, with its foreign exchange reserves skyrocketing by tenfold, and its oil exports jumping somewhere north of $25 billion. Why? Because the United States has not chosen to enforce the sanctions on the books in any serious way, allowing Tehran to earn more, bankroll more terror, and subsidize groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and PIJ. Not to speak of its own nuclear and missile programs.

So, back to the Palestinians. The money Biden pledged will come out of emergency funds and will not be subject to congressional scrutiny, I’m told. Right now, USAID won’t answer any congressional questions about where it’s going or how it will be used. That likely means that the NGOs and United Nations agencies spending will be doing what too many have done for too many years with these funds – helping Hamas, spreading extremism through education, and worse. Will there be food and medicine, oil and gas to run generators? One might hope, but Hamas has stolen most of those supplies from the United Nations to fuel its own killers.

Now is the time for the Palestinians’ most loyal supporters to ante up for their friends, and for Hamas’ underwriters to pay for the damage their proxies are inflicting. The only confusing thing here is why anyone thinks this should come off the backs of the American taxpayer.

Danielle Pletka is a distinguished senior fellow in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where she focuses on US foreign policy generally and the Middle East specifically. Until January 2020, Ms. Pletka was the senior vice president of foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Concurrently, she also teaches US Middle East policy at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service.

This article was first published by the American Enterprise Institute.

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