WASHINGTON — A bill to kill funding to the Palestinian Authority if they continue paying stipends to the families of terrorists passed through the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday despite some activists asserting that the legislation had been weakened to the point where it wouldn’t deeply wound the PA.
The act is named after Taylor Force, a 28-year-old Army vet, who was stabbed to death by a terrorist from the West Bank while visiting Tel Aviv with Vanderbilt grad school classmates in March 2016.
A study of the Palestinian Authority’s 2017 budget by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs found that nearly half of all foreign aid received by Ramallah goes to prisoners, former prisoners or families of “martyrs,” defined as those “killed or wounded in the struggle against Zionism.” The PA’s budget allocates $190,869,166 for “martyr” payments, up from $174,630,296 in 2016.
The bill would stop U.S. direct aid to the PA unless the secretary of State certifies the Palestinian Authority “is taking credible steps to end acts of violence against United States and Israeli citizens that are perpetrated by individuals under its jurisdictional control,” “is publicly condemning such acts of violence and is taking steps to investigate or is cooperating in investigations of such acts to bring the perpetrators to justice,” and “has terminated payments for acts of terrorism against United States and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for such acts of terrorism and to any individual who died committing such acts of terrorism, including to a family member of such individuals.”
There are two Democrats among the 155 co-sponsors: Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-N.J.) and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).
“Since 2003, it has been Palestinian law to reward Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails with a monthly paycheck. Palestinian leadership also pays the families of Palestinian prisoners and suicide bombers. These policies incentivize terrorism,” said Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). “With this legislation, we are forcing the PA to choose between U.S. assistance and these morally reprehensible policies, and I am pleased to see this measure move forward in both chambers with so much support.”
The Taylor Force Act moved forward in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August before lawmakers left for the summer recess.
The Zionist Organization of America said Wednesday that they “reluctantly” supported the House bill as it puts conditions on only a portion of U.S. aid.
“The revised House bill, like the Senate bill, only cuts funds which, in the language of the convoluted political appropriations process, ‘directly benefits’ the anti-Semitic PA—even though every US ‘indirect’ dollar given to this Nazi-like Arab regime is actually of direct benefit to them in real terms. So this revised bill now excludes roughly half of the assistance under threat, amounting to only about $130 million,” ZOA presdeitn Morton Klein along with Josh London and Dan Pollak, co-directors of ZOA Government Relations Department, said in a statement.
They also objected to the bill’s five-year sunset provision.
“All the US is asking of the radical, anti-Semitic PA to continue to receive US funds is to stop paying Arabs to murder Jews. If they refuse to do this simple, minimal step, should the U.S. really give the PA any U.S. taxpayer dollars for anything at all!? After 24 years since Oslo, isn’t it now clear that the PA doesn’t want peace with the Jewish State and really wants to keep killing Jews and ultimately destroy Israel as a Jewish State?”