Ricketts, Scott Introduce Bill to Block Foreign Aid Benefitting Hamas
October 31, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE), a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced the Stop Support for Hamas Act with the support of Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
“Hamas has stolen and abused international aid to Gaza to further its mission to annihilate Israel for years,” said Senator Ricketts. “We must do everything in our power to support Israel’s efforts to eliminate Hamas. This bill will stop using American taxpayer dollars to fund specific programs that support Hamas’ grip on Gaza.”
“We must do everything we can to ensure that not a single American tax dollar ends up in the hands of Hamas,” said Senator Tim Scott. “Hamas has exploited assistance programs and resources to maintain its hold on Gaza and wage terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, including women and children. Halting U.S. funding for these programs is a critical step as we continue to stand with our ally Israel in its fight against terror.”
“After Hamas’s heinous terrorist attack on October 7, in which it slaughtered innocent men, women, and children in the most horrifying ways imaginable, the international community must dispense with the dangerous fiction that Hamas is a credible governing authority,” said FDD Action. “Hamas is a terrorist organization, and its access to international assistance should end immediately. Hamas has diverted global aid for years, using it to build up its deadly terror operations instead of benefitting the people of Gaza. FDD Action is proud to endorse the Stop Support for Hamas Act, which enhances oversight of U.S. assistance to Gaza and the West Bank to ensure that Hamas or any other Palestinian terror organization never benefits from the generosity of the American people.”
The Stop Support for Hamas Act would:
- Cut off contributions for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which has been described as “effectively a branch of Hamas;”
- Freeze Economic Support Funds (ESF) to Gaza and the West Bank until Israel has verifiably dismantled the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza;
- Strengthen certification requirements under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 to ensure that no ministry, agency or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority (PA) employs members, agents or affiliates of Hamas;
- Ensure any U.S. assistance to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Gaza and the West Bank does not benefit Hamas or any other terrorist organization; and
- Strengthen Taylor Force Act provisions to prevent any U.S. funding that directly or indirectly benefits the PA until it ends its “pay for slay” program.
Bill text for the Stop Support for Hamas Act can be found HERE.
Cut Off Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
- UNRWA has employed educators who “regularly call to murder Jews” and teach from textbooks “that glorify terrorism, encourage martyrdom, demonize Israelis and incite antisemitism.”
- UNRWA has employed registered Hamas members.
- UNRWA schools have been found storing Hamas weapons.
- UNRWA facilities have been used as staging grounds for attacks against Israel.
- In 2018, the Trump administration cut off contributions to UNRWA, calling it an “irredeemably flawed operation.”
- The Biden administration reversed the move, funneling more than $730 million to UNRWA since taking office.
- On October 16, 2023, UNRWA initially said that Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip had stolen fuel and medical supplies meant for refugees from its premises in Gaza City, but later retracted the statement, presumably after pressure from Hamas.
- The Stop Support for Hamas Act would cut off contributions to UNRWA.
Freeze Economic Support Funds (ESF) for Gaza and the West Bank Until Israel Has Defeated Hamas & Ensure That Assistance to NGOs Doesn’t Benefit Hamas
- ESF is the main channel for NGO-implemented economic development, civil society, and basic needs assistance in Gaza and the West Bank.
- It makes no sense to provide ESF assistance to Gaza and the West Bank while Israel is actively fighting a war to defeat Hamas.
- Additional restrictions are also necessary to ensure that aid provided the NGOs does not benefit Hamas or other terrorist organizations.
- For the last two fiscal years, Congress has appropriated over $400 million in ESF for Gaza and the West Bank. The Biden Administration’s request for FY24 is $225 million.
- The Stop Support for Hamas Act would freeze ESF assistance until the conclusion of the war on Hamas and ensure any NGO assistance does not benefit Hamas.
Strengthen Certification Requirements Under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (PATA)
- According to the Wall Street Journal, a Hamas terrorist who died in an assault on Kibbutz Be’eri carried a paycheck from the Palestinian interior ministry.
- The paycheck indicated a wage of 5,000 shekels a month, or $1,260, a very high salary in Gaza.
- PATA prohibits U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority – who covers a portion of the enclave’s government salaries – unless the administration certifies that “no ministry, agency, or instrumentality of the Palestinian Authority is effectively controlled by Hamas.”
- The Stop Support for Hamas Act strengthens the certification from “effectively controlled” to “employing any members, agents or affiliates of Hamas.” The change will provide the PA with an incentive to rid Hamas members from its agencies and security services and get rid of a national security waiver that circumvents the limitations.
Strengthens Taylor Force Act (TFA)
- The TFA, which was signed into law in 2018, prohibited most ESF assistance to Gaza and the West Bank that “directly benefits” the PA unless it stops funding “martyr payments” to the families of Palestinian terrorists who are jailed or killed attacking innocent Israeli civilians.
- These payments, which can reach up to $3,500 a month, provide incentives for Palestinians terrorist acts.
- Some estimates suggest the PA may be compelled to spend nearly $3 million a month to the families of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the deadly massacre against Israel on October 7th.
- The Stop Support for Hamas Act prevents assistance that indirectly benefits the PA until it ends pay-for-slay.