In a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) pressed the Biden Administration for answers regarding two State Department grants reportedly funding a Palestinian group that organizes meetings attended by terrorists seeking the slaughtering of Jews and the annihilation of Israel.
“We write to request an inquiry, explanation, and remedial action regarding two US State Department grants made to an entity in Gaza that supports terrorism and cooperates with known terrorist leaders,” the lawmakers wrote.
“According to a new report released by NGO Monitor, an Israeli NGO, and covered by the Washington Examiner, the State Department has awarded money to the Phoenix Center for Research and Field Studies,” the two lawmakers said.
“NGO Monitor’s report documents that the Phoenix Center regularly hosts symposia, workshops and discussions with senior leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)—both of which the US Government has designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations,” the lawmakers said.
“At these events, flags of these terrorist organizations are prominently displayed, and support is expressed for them and for ‘armed resistance’—a euphemism for terrorism,” the lawmakers continued.
According to reports, the Phoenix Center was awarded two separate grants by the US State Department since August that amount to more than $90,000 despite the group’s evident ties to terrorists.
In the letter, Smith and Bilirakis cited just some of the alarming quotes that are readily accessible on the Phoenix Center’s website that detail some of its meetings:
- On May 29, 2022, the Phoenix Center hosted a discussion at which “participants emphasized the need to redefine the armed resistance and define its tasks in a framework of total conflict with the occupation…”
- On September 19, 2022, the Phoenix Center held a discussion with senior PIJ member Khader Habib, in which participants emphasized the requirement of “continued resistance action until achieving a third intifada.”
- On November 9, 2022, the Phoenix Center held a discussion where its director of programs, Salah Abdalati, praised newly-founded West Bank terror cells, describing “The joy created by the phenomena of the Lions’ Den, the [PIJ’s] Jenin battalion and the Nablus Battalion”; and
- On December 13, 2022, the Phoenix Center hosted a discussion that concluded “the priorities of future agendas must include the need to reintegrate armed resistance and popular resistance… viewing both as essential tools of the conflict.”
“Under absolutely no circumstances should the State Department be subsidizing an organization that promotes the killing of innocent Jews and terror attacks against our great ally Israel,” the lawmakers said.
“The Biden Administration must immediately rescind these grants, provide a full accounting of how and why this money was awarded in the first place, and determine if any other similar grants were made,” said Smith, who recently chaired a congressional hearing entitled “Responding to Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Bias in the UN, Palestinian Authority, and NGO Community.”