The House Foreign Affairs Committee has just approved a bill called the Taylor Force Act which would strip U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it changes its policies on supporting terrorism.
What Is the Taylor Force Act?
Taylor Force was a U.S. veteran killed by a Palestinian terrorist while on a university trip in Israel. An officer who had served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Force was stabbed in Tel Aviv in March 2016. His killer was shot and killed at the scene.
The Palestinian Authority is paying a salary to the family of the terrorist who killed Force, as it does to the families of all terrorists killed in action by Israeli forces. Terrorists who are not killed or who are imprisoned receive salaries directly. The longer they are in prison the more money is awarded.
Palestinian leaders have long defended these payouts.
“It is the right of all of the prisoners and martyrs who have struggled and sacrificed for Palestine to receive their full salaries from the PA,” Hassan Abd Rabbo, spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs has said.
Such payouts make up a significant portion of the Palestinian Authority budget. In 2017, the Palestinian Authority took in an estimated $693 million from international donors, but allocated nearly $345 to pay terrorists and their families.
According to the official congressional website, the Taylor Force Act will halt U.S. payments to the Palestinian Authority until that body:
- is taking steps to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens perpetrated by individuals under its jurisdictional control, such as the March 2016 attack that killed former Army officer Taylor Force;
- is publicly condemning such acts of violence and is investigating, or cooperating in investigations of, such acts; and
- has terminated payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens to any individual who has been convicted and imprisoned for such acts, to any individual who died committing such acts, and to family members of such an individual.
Although the Palestinian Authority is technically a secular nationalist organization in direct opposition to radical Islam, Palestinian leaders have long used Islamist rhetoric to incite the population to carry out acts of terror against Israel. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2015 slammed Jewish access to the Temple Mount saying, “Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem.”
Who Supports the Bill?
The bill enjoys bipartisan support despite being drafted by Republicans. The Senate bill was sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham. Democrats were persuaded to support the bill after concerns that the U.S. would continue to provide direct humanitarian aid, such as paying for water, were addressed. It is predicted to pass and become law.
“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,” committee chairman Ed Royce (R-California).
The bill is also supported by a network of pro-Israel think tanks and political organizations.
Passing the act “will mark a vital step in the larger fight against terror, improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians, and defend our values,” Dr. Michael Makovsky, president and CEO of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America, wrote in The Hill.
How is the Bill Progressing?
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill unanimously on Wednesday. The bill will now come before the House of Representatives for a floor vote. Parallel legislation has been introduced in the Senate and will have to pass both houses to become law. The Senate’s version of the Taylor Force Act passed the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee in August.
The Taylor Force Act passed the committee alongside two other bills targeting Palestinian terrorism. One, the Hamas Human Shields Prevention Act, will impose sanctions on Hamas for its use of human shields. The other, the Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, imposes sanctions on foreign persons, agencies and governments that assist Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or any of their affiliates.