Senate Committee Approves Taylor Force Act to Cut Off Aid to Palestinians

Taylor Force Act
Sen. Lindsey Graham (L) and Sen. Bob Corker at a press conference Thursday following the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the Taylor Force Act. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Taylor Force Act on Thursday, which would suspend U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it stops rewarding Palestinians who kill American and Israeli citizens.

Members of the Republican-led panel voted 16-5 to pass the measure, which is sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and the committee’s chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn.

Corker said the Palestinian Authority allots monthly stipends of as much as $3,500 to Palestinian terrorists and to their families. The amount of the payment depends on the length of the prison sentence they receive for the crime.

“To me, it’s almost a definition of a war criminal,” Corker said of the payments.

The bill is named for Taylor Force, an MBA student at Vanderbilt University and a West Point graduate who was visiting Israel in March 2016 when he was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist. Force was from Lubbock, Texas.

The Trump administration’s budget request for fiscal 2018 includes roughly $260 million for economic development and law-enforcement programs in Yehudah, Shomron and Gaza.

Taylor Force Act
Taylor Force in a 2009 photo provided by the United States Military Academy shows Taylor Force. Force, a 28-year-old MBA student at Vanderbilt University and a West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, was killed in Israel Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in a stabbing spree near the seaside city of Jaffa. (United States Military Academy via AP)

In a statement, Graham said the Palestinian Authority praised Force’s killer as a “heroic martyr,” and said that the Taylor Force Act “shines a light on the very real problem of ‘Pay to Slay.’

“Taylor was an American hero who was brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists,” said Graham. “Yet instead of condemning this horrific attack – and so many others like it – the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists. These rewards for terrorist attacks are inconsistent with American values. They are inconsistent with decency. And they are certainly inconsistent with peace. Simply put, you can’t be a partner in peace when you are paying people to commit acts of terror. It is long past time to let the Palestinian Authority know that these practices are wholly unacceptable.”

Corker said that the bill “will force the Palestinian Authority to make a choice: either face the consequences of stoking violence or end this detestable practice immediately.”

Jewish organizations hailed the news of the committee’s passage of the bill

Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center’s Executive Director, said that the “strong bipartisan vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today moves toward ensuring that the U.S. will not tolerate – or pay for – violence and terrorism against Israelis, Americans and others.”

Diament told Hamodia that given the bill’s bipartisan support in the committee, he was “optimistic” that it would pass the full Senate. However, he added that the question of whether it would be introduced alone or as part of a larger bill still left a significant degree of uncertainty in its future.

“Mr. Abbas might face criticism in the Palestinian sphere for stopping these payments, but what the bill accomplishes is that if he fails to do so, there are many in his community who would feel some pain as a result,” said Diament.

Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director, said: “It is unacceptable and unconscionable that American aid be provided to a regime that rewards and glorifies – in word and deed – bloodshed and violence against innocents. The Senate Committee has made clear that this support is intolerable to our nation and to those who hope for peace. American aid must stop at terrorism’s door.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also welcomed the news of the bill’s passage by the committee, and urged the full Senate to pass the bill quickly. In a statement, Chairman Stephen M. Greenberg and Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Malcolm Hoenlein said that it is “particularly important for this legislation to move forward quickly in light of the news that nearly one-half of the foreign aid received by the Palestinian Authority is budgeted for rewarding Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israelis and visitors to Israel like Taylor Force.

“We look forward to swift passage of the Taylor Force Act.”


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