By Eric Fusfield
A bipartisan breakthrough in Congress could help force a halt to the Palestinian Authority's practice of monetarily rewarding terrorism.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by a decisive 17-4 margin this month to approve S. 1697, the Taylor Force Act, aimed at stopping PA stipends of up to $3,500 a month to convicted terrorists and families of deceased assailants. The bill is named after Taylor Force, a 29-year-old U.S. Army veteran and Vanderbilt University graduate student stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv last year. The family of Force's killer receives a monthly payment from the PA.
What would the Taylor Force Act do?
The legislation would suspend $300 million in annual U.S. aid to the PA until it stops paying terrorists and their families. It would not limit funding for security cooperation or assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The bill outlines steps the PA must take before U.S. aid can resume.
Who supports the legislation?
Among the bill's co-sponsors is Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the committee that passed the bill and a senator from the state where Taylor Force attended school. Another key backer is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who represents the state in which Force's parents live; Graham chairs the Senate subcommittee overseeing foreign aid.
While the bill's original supporters were primarily Republicans, a bipartisan mix of senators forged a crucial compromise that would exempt funding for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network and create an escrow account to hold humanitarian aid. These modifications enabled senators such as Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, to add their support.
How is Israel Impacted?
The Israeli government has long expressed wariness of reductions in aid to the Palestinians, for fear of stoking instability in the West Bank and Gaza. But Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer recently spoke favorably of the Taylor Force Act at a Washington gathering of pro-Israel Christians, signaling Israel's desire to end the PA's cash incentivization of terror. "Israel believes that the United States should end economic assistance to any government that pays people to kill Jews. Period," Dermer declared.
What happens next?
The bill must first be approved by the full Senate. The House of Representatives, where similar legislation has also been introduced, must pass it as well. The final bill would then go to the White House for signature.
What can I do?
Call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your senators' offices. Tell them to end the PA's abhorrent practice of "pay for slay" by voting in favor of the Taylor Force Act.
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