World Jewish News
Senator Bob Corker
Jewish groups welcome vote by US Senate committee of bill conditioning financial aid to the PA to stopping payment of salaries t
04.08.2017, Israel and the World
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed the Taylor Force Act, a bill which conditions the American annual aid to the Palestinian Authority on ending the payment of salaries to terrorists convicted of murder.
The move was welcomed by Jewish groups as ‘’a clear message that the U.S. will no longer tolerate the Palestinian Authority’s practice of venerating and protecting those who carry out acts of terror, which only fuels more terrorism.”
The Senate committee approved the act by a 17-4 vote, Republican Senator Bob Corker, the committee’s chairman, announced. It will now return to the full Senate for a vote during the fall session,
Another Republican Senator, Lindsey Graham, who initiated the bill, said its principal aim was to prevent the PA from providing financial incentives for acts of terrorism.
“If you’re a young Palestinian, maybe the best thing you can do for your family in terms of income is to become a terrorist,” Graham said. “That’s sick.”
The act is named in memory of Taylor Force, a former US Army officer and veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars who was murdered in Jaffa in a Palestinian stabbing attack in March 2016. The 28-year-old Force, a Vanderbilt University graduate student, had been visiting Israel as part of a school-organized spring break trip.
“This is a big day for the Taylor Force family,” Graham said.
This bill will cut off all funding to the PA until they change their laws which reward terrorism, which reward people for killing a young man like Taylor Force. I don’t want his death to be in vain.”
Corker said that interviews with several Palestinian prisoners had shown that part of their motive for engaging in terror was to “ensure that they did something egregious enough to at least get a five-year sentence, where the payment is stepped up.”
Both Corker and Graham pointed out that Force’s murderer, Bashar Masalha, had been lauded as a hero by Palestinians after he was shot dead by an Israeli police officer at the scene of the stabbing spree. “I cannot look the Taylor Force family in the eye and say that giving the PA money is an investment for peace, or for the American taxpayer,” Graham said.
Six Democrats were among the 17 Senators who voted in favor of the act. Four Senators, all Democrats, voted against the act.
Jewish groups welcomed the vote by the Senate committee.
The World Jewish Congress encouraged lawmakers to show the same bipartisan support when the act is brought to the Senate floor later this month.
This is a crucial piece of legislation which could set a precedent for the entire world in insisting that humanitarian aid must be used for humanitarian purposes, and not to encourage terrorism,’’ it said.
“The Palestinian Authority currently spends more than $300 million in foreign aid money annually on monthly salaries to terrorists and their families. This incentive to commit acts of terrorism against innocent civilians, including tourists, must be stopped.”
“It is time for the Palestinian Authority to bring an end to the disturbing practice of rewarding Palestinian terrorism through payments to terrorists and their families,” said Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “This bill sends a clear message that the U.S. will no longer tolerate the Palestinian Authority’s practice of venerating and protecting those who carry out acts of terror, which only fuels more terrorism,” he added.
He alo said: ‘’Essential security cooperation between Israel and the PA’s security forces must continue. Steps should also be taken to ensure the Palestinian Authority does not face economic collapse, which would have severe consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis.’’
The bill compels the U.S. State Department to cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if they direct any funds toward terrorists or their families. The PA would also be required to take “credible steps” against incitement to violence against Israelis and Americans.
To complement the legislation, ADL supports bilateral and multilateral incentives including direct pressure from the U.S., Europeans and others to compel the Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorist families and to crack down on anti-Israel incitement from leading Palestinian political and religious figures.
The Zionist Oganization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Taylor Force Act for not being extensive enough. ZOA said that US humanitarian aid ostensibly meant for hospitals and public utilities can still seep back into PA coffers, thereby indirectly funding the terror payments.
The group declared it would campaign against any further amendments to the legislation that would weaken the conditions on US funding for the PA.