WASHINGTON (JTA) – Two dozen American citizens living in Israel filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over its funding to the Palestinian Authority and other groups operating in the West Bank and Gaza.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for Washington, alleges that the U.S. State Department, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, violated the Anti-Terrorism Act and disregarded the congressional safeguards and reporting requirements that are attached to American aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Thus, according to the lawsuit, federal money has fallen into the hands of Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other supporters of terrorism against civilians who live in Israel.
Successive U.S. administrations have gone on record as saying that controls are in place to keep funds from reaching terrorists.
The lawsuit requests that the federal court review actions of the State Department and any funds distributed by USAID in its programs to the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA. It also asks for aid to be suspended until there is compliance with all of Congress’ regulations and reporting requirements.
Some of the 24 plaintiffs are victims of terror. They are represented by attorney Norman Steiner of New York.
Under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, the State Department is prohibited from providing material support to terrorist groups.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, said that “once handed over, U.S. funding of the PA and UNRWA is difficult to trace and the State Department has been lax in requiring the Palestinians to utilize bank accounts and other transfer methods that ensure transparency.”
The U.S. government is “breaking the law and must cease all funding of the PA immediately," she said in a statement to JTA. "U.S. aid to the Palestinians is killing innocent people.”