US Senate passes Taylor Force Act, slashing aid to Palestinians
United States funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) is set to be slashed after the Senate passed the Taylor Force Act as part of a $1.3 trillion spending package to stave off a US-wide government shut down.
The Act, which has garnered bipartisan support, would withhold a large chunk of Washington's financial aid to the Western-backed Palestinian leadership unless they cease payments to families of terrorists convicted in Israeli courts.
The bill's proponents, along with Israeli officials, say payments by the PA to families of those imprisoned in Israel for carrying out acts of terror serve as incentives for other would-be assailants.
The legislation is named after US citizen Taylor Force, who was killed by a West Bank resident who went on a stabbing spree in Jaffa Port in March 2016.
It protects some aid funding to the PA, including for wastewater projects that have been spearheaded by co-operation between Palestinians, Israel, the US and Jordan.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham succeeded in attaching the bill to the massive omnibus spending package that came up for a vote in the Senate in the early hours of Friday morning.
“Taylor was an American hero who was brutally murdered at the hands of terrorists,” Graham said in a statement before the bill's passing.
“Yet instead of condemning this horrific attack -- and so many others like it -- the Palestinian Authority pays monetary rewards to terrorists and their families."
"These rewards for terrorist attacks are inconsistent with American values. They are inconsistent with decency, and they are certainly inconsistent with peace.”
It is widely expected that President Donald Trump will sign the bill into law.
The PA has strenuously opposed the bill, arguing that the payments are legitimate and it would be politically impossible to curtail them.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas defended the payments to the families of Palestinian attackers last summer as "a social responsibility" adding he thought it was "racist" to call all our political prisoners "terrorists" instead of "victims of the occupation."
Responding to the Act's attachment to the spending package, Israel's UN envoy Danny Danon lauded the move to end what he termed "pay to slay" payments.
"The passage of the Taylor Force Act is an important step towards finally ending the despicable practice of pay to slay & ensuring accountability in the Palestinian Authority. All countries must demand that the PA invest in a future for Palestinians, not pay terrorists' salaries," Danon wrote on Twitter.
A similar bill in Israel that would cut Israeli funding by the same amount that the PA uses to pay terrorists' families is currently before the Knesset.
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Great day for humans decency and the rule of law. The only way to get Abbas’ and the PAs attention is to hurt them in the wallet. They don’t and have never cared about the needs of their people. They care about two things, maintaining their own power and the corruption that lines the leadership’s pockets. This has been going on for decades and time to stop.