Palestinian Prime Minister’s Letter to Secretary of State
On No Longer Accepting US Assistance
Ramallah, 26 December 2018
Mr. Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
United States of America
Re: United States Aid to Palestine: Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018
Dear Mr. Secretary of State,
I am writing in connection with the aid received by the Government of Palestine from the United States of America.
The Government of Palestine is, and always will be, grateful for the past economic support of the American people. Augmenting Palestine's own financial resources and support from other nations, the U.S. assistance has facilitated the growth of robust governmental institutions and capacity in Palestine for the benefit of the Palestinian people, and has supported peace and stability for Palestine and its neighbors. The bond between the Palestinian and American people will always be strong.
Regrettably, however, the U.S. economic aid to Palestine now has become a dividing force due to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018 ("ATCA'"). As you may know, the ATCA references various forms of U.S. assistance to the Government of Palestine. Further, the ATCA purports to alter the rules of jurisdiction over the Government of Palestine in the U.S. legal proceedings if it continues to accept such aid after January 31, 2019.
The Government of Palestine takes seriously its commitment to respond to all claims of jurisdiction over it in legal proceedings in the U.S. Judicial Branch. The U.S. courts, in turn, have consistently held that “general jurisdiction” of the type discussed in the ATCA cannot be exercised over the Palestinian National Authority and its agencies.
In the view of the Government of Palestine. the U.S. Judicial Branch has sole cognizance over these issues because they involve rights protected by the Constitution of the United States of America. Unfortunately, the ATCA has sought to convert these constitutional issues into political ones.
In light of these developments, the Government of Palestine respectfully informs the United States Government that as of January 31, 2019, it fully disclaims and no longer wishes to accept any form of assistance referenced in ATCA. Let there be no misunderstanding on this point. The terms of ATCA envision that the Government of Palestine will make a choice whether or not to accept U.S. “assistance, however provided” after January 31, 2019, under the referenced Foreign Assistance programs. The Government of Palestine unambiguously makes the choice not to accept such assistance.
The ATCA does not include any such aid within its scope; in any event. the intent of the Government of Palestine is to forego any aid within the scope of ATCA. For the avoidance of doubt. the Government of Palestine, including the Palestinian National Authority and its agencies, does not undertake or accept any responsibility for any public or private aid from U.S.-affiliated sources that is or may be provided directly, or indirectly by any third party, to any non-governmental Palestinian institution (including civil society or private sector) on or after January 31, 2019.
As noted previously, the U.S. courts have consistently held that the Government of Palestine is not subject to “general jurisdiction” in U.S. litigation. Because those decisions are rooted in due process protections found in the U.S. Constitution, the ATCA (whatever its intent and purport) cannot support an exercise of the general jurisdiction of the U.S. courts over the Palestinian National Authority and its agencies.
It is unfortunate that the ATCA politicized these issues, which properly belonged within the sole province of the U.S. courts. But, now that the ATCA has done so, the Government of Palestine is constrained to respond as set forth herein. Naturally, if circumstances change, such that Palestine's acceptance of aid under these programs could not be used to undermine due process protections for Palestine in the U.S. courts. then the Government of Palestine would revisit its decision and would take the steps to restore these aid programs, which have a proven track record of success.
CC. H.E. Mr. Shukry Bishara, Minister of Finance and Planning, Ramallah