Did State Department copy old reports to whitewash PA?

'State Department fears its own words could be used by Congress to cut funding to the PA, so it intentionally slants reports.'

Gary Willig ,

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson

Two prominent former Israeli diplomats accused the US State Department of copying parts of old reports into newer reports in order to whitewash the Palestinian Authority's (PA) incitement to violence, the Jewish News Service (JNS) reported.

Last week, the State Department released its annual assessment of global terrorism for 2016. Former Ambassador Alan Baker and ex-diplomat Lenny Ben-David, noted that the report used nearly identical language to defend the PA from accusations of incitement for the tenth consecutive year.

“The PA has taken significant steps during President [Mahmoud] Abbas’s tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence,” the report states. The exact same sentence has been used in every annual assessment of global terrorism since the 2013 report.

Other instances of identical sentences being used in different years were noted.

Former Ambassador Alan Baker, who has served on Israeli delegations during negotiations with the PA and as the firmer director of the Foreign Ministry, told JNS that State Department officials seemed to be “taking previous reports and copying them, making slight changes where they consider it relevant,” rather than actually assessing the PA's role in incitement.

Ambassador Baker said that the PA was not taking "significant steps" against incitement as the State Department report stated, but “the opposite is the case—their own actions, statements and publications, naming streets and squares after terrorists, formally paying fees to terrorist families, all point to a distinctive step backwards in violation of Palestinian commitments pursuant to the Oslo Accords.”

The former ambassador said that the effect of the report is that “the Palestinians see it as a license to continue and as support for their struggle. If the State Department closes a blind eye, this is tantamount to giving a green light.”

Former Israeli diplomat Lenny Ben-David who held the second-ranking position in the Israeli embassy in Washington DC from 1997-2000, agreed. Ben-David said that the State Department “does copy from year to year,” and that it has been able to do so for years because “who pays attention?”

Ben-David added that the State Department intentionally misrepresents the PA's actions in its reports because it is afraid that Congress will decide to slash US funding to the PA over its incitement and support for terrorism.

The state Department “fears that its own words will be used to buttress congressional efforts to cut aid to the PA; imagine what a truthful report on incitement would do to assist passage of the Taylor Force legislation.”

The Taylor Force Act, which is currently making its way through Congress, would cut all US funding to the PA as long as it continued its policy of monetary subsidies for terrorists. The bill is named for Taylor Force, an American citizen who was murdered by an Arab terrorist in Jaffa in 2016.