House passes bill cutting aid to PA over funding of terrorists

The House passed the Taylor Force Act with bipartisan support, cutting all funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops financially rewarding terrorists. 

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The House easily approved legislation Tuesday that would restrict financial aid that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it takes credible steps to end what lawmakers say is a practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis.

The legislation reflects bipartisan outrage over what members of Congress have called a “pay to slay” program endorsed by the PA.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said the program “incentivizes terrorism.”

“This perverse pay-to-slay system uses a sliding scale: the longer the jail sentence, the greater the reward,” Royce said. “The highest payments go to those serving life sentences – to those who prove most brutal.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, said the so-called martyr payments are “downright disgusting” and undermine the potential for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The legislation is named after American war veteran Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death in a Palestinian terror attack that left 10 others wounded in Jaffa last in March 2016. Force, 29, served tours of duty in the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a graduate of the prestigious West Point Military Academy. He was in Israel as part of a Vanderbilt University trip.

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“He was a young man with big dreams and loads of potential,” Royce said.

Palestinian officials claim the payments are meant for welfare, but this claim has been debunked. Real welfare subsidies are in fact part of a separate budget.

The US government financially supports the Palestinians in a variety of ways, including paying certain debts held by the PA and underwriting programs for which the PA would otherwise be responsible, according to the House legislation.

The bill states US money may only be made available if the State Department certifies the Palestinians are serious about ending “acts of violence against Israeli citizens and United States citizens that are perpetrated or materially assisted by individuals under their jurisdictional control.”

The PA is also required to revoke any laws or regulations authorizing the payments to terrorists or their families and must publicly condemn the acts of violence, according to the bill. Under PA law, the more heinous the act of terror committed, the greater the reward.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a separate version of the Taylor Force bill in early August.