The Biden administration is funding an organization that supports Palestinian terrorists, according to an Israeli watchdog group.
The Phoenix Center for Research and Field Studies, established in March 2021 under the auspices of Gaza University, was awarded more than $90,000 combined in taxpayer-backed grants from President Joe Biden’s State Department for two projects running until August of next year, according to USAspending.gov.
The Phoenix Center says it “is an independent, non-profit Palestinian institution established within the framework of its responsibility towards Palestinian communities to meet their political, economic and social needs.”
However, NGO Monitor, a watchdog group based in Jerusalem, said the Phoenix Center has partnered with leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), designated as terror groups by the State Department in 1997.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chairman of its Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, told the Washington Examiner that the funding “is deeply disturbing and raises alarming questions.”
“Under absolutely no circumstances should the State Department be sending U.S. taxpayer dollars to subsidize terrorist workshops and conferences that are decorated with the flags of terrorist organizations and posters of known terrorists who are actively seeking the slaughter of Jews and the annihilation of Israel,” Smith told the Examiner.
Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., also on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Examiner there “needs to be some serious oversight and accountability” and “somebody should lose their job” if tax dollars are going to terror-tied groups.
NGO Monitor said Phoenix Center officials have participated in conferences with personnel from the PIJ and PFLP.
In July 2022, the center said on its website that it held a discussion on Biden’s visit to the West Bank. Participants included senior PIJ members and senior PFLP members, according to the watchdog.
On Sept. 19, 2022, the center held a discussion on “the escalation of the crimes of the Israeli occupation,” which included senior PIJ member Khader Habib, who once said his group would “slaughter” Jewish people in Israel.
NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg says the State Department apparently had not “carefully vetted” its awards to the Phoenix Center, the Examiner reported.
USAspending.gov shows that the State Department awarded the Phoenix Center $60,000 for a project that began Sept. 12 and aimed to “develop and enhance the knowledge and skills” of Palestinians and “enhance the knowledge and skills of Palestinians in “public speaking, storytelling, and digital networking.”
That award’s end date is Aug. 31, 2024.
The State Department also awarded the Phoenix center $30,088 for an Aug. 28, 2023, to July 31, 2024, project related to information technology, specifically, to “raise the awareness of IT trends and provide networking opportunities with IT employers in Europe and Asia for target audiences,” according to records.