The United States is allocating more than $100 million of taxpayer funds to the Palestinian government and other aid groups in response to the conflict between Israel and Gaza in the Middle East, the Biden administration says there’s “no guarantee” that Hamas won’t receive a portion of the aid.
"As we've seen in life, as we all know in life, there are no guarantees," a senior official with the State Department said after being asked if Hamas will receive aid.
The Trump administration withdrew from sending aid to Iran in 2018, a decision made after the Obama administration provided aid to Iran which led to the Iranian government dispersing aid to Iranian-back terrorist groups such as Hamas.
"The Biden Administration has a fundamental obligation to do whatever it can to prevent American taxpayer dollars from winding up in the bank accounts of terrorists. It is in no way acceptable for the State Department to flippantly offer that this is all a matter of fate well beyond their control," Rep. Darrell Issa (R. Calif.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon.
The House representative from California slammed the State Department for their lack of transparency and "no guarantees" comment. "This reinforces the imperative of Congress' core oversight function, and I hope that the White House provides quick clarification and commits to redoubling all its efforts to ensure that American aid is never handed over to those who would use it to take other people's lives," Issa said.
Vice President for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former Terrorism Finance Analyst with the US Department of Treasury Jonathan Schanzer said established aid channels are in need of significant reform as the majority have been exceedingly corrupted. Only if organizations are reformed the Biden administration can ensure the money fails from reaching terrorist groups, Washington Free Beacon reports.
"There needs to be approved aid organizations that are trusted by all sides. This probably means that new organizations should be created, with strong oversight mechanisms to prevent what has happened for more than a decade. The current channels have clearly failed," Schanzer said. "But the real problem is not the aid channels: The real problem here is Hamas's control of Gaza. As long as this Iran-backed terrorist group retains its iron grip, it will be extremely difficult to help the population without inadvertently funding Hamas."
Representative Jim Banks (R-IN), of the House Armed Services Committee, said the Biden administration's remarks are "very disturbing" and officials with the State Department need to "unequivocally tell us that American aid won't go to terrorists."
"The State Department needs to safeguard taxpayer dollars and make sure we're not funding a war against Israel," Banks said.
Blinken recently returned home after traveling to the Middle East in an attempt to promote ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. While in the Middle East, Blinken announced the US will offer $100 million in aid to the Palestinians. The aid includes an immediate $5.5 million to the Gaza Strip to help with disaster relief and another $75 million throughout the year, according to Washington Free Beacon.
Blinken said that more than $32 million will be awarded to UNRWA, an organization that former UN ambassador Nikki Haley said makes peace in the Middle East "harder" and funding them will "get less peace."
According to Blinken, the Biden administration is working towards a "coordinated international effort to ensure immediate assistance reaches Gaza in a way that benefits the people there and not Hamas."