Passage of game-changing Taylor Force Act puts Palestinians on notice

The US has placed the Palestinians and the world on notice that incitement to terror and paying salaries to terrorists will no longer be tolerated.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

The name of a U.S. army veteran killed by a Palestinian terrorist received its just legacy after the Senate passed the Taylor Force Act into law, blocking American funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues to pay salaries to convicted and deceased terrorists and their families. The bipartisan bill was approved on Friday as part of a $1.3 trillion spending package to stave off a U.S.-wide government shutdown.

A 29-year-old US Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian in a 2016 stabbing attack while he was walking on a seaside promenade in Jaffo during a Vanderbilt University student visit to Israel.

The law was amended by the Senate to keep some aid funding to the PA, including a cooperative wastewater project between the PA, the US, Jordan and Israel.

Senator Lindsay Graham(R-SC) authored the bill which he calls a demand for action and not just words. “Passage of the Taylor Force Act will give us much-needed leverage with the Palestinians to push back on this outrageous policy,” said Graham.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Shumer (D-NY) said, “Passage of the Taylor Force Act will serve as a shot across the bow to President Abbas, that he must be held accountable for the Palestinian Authority’s record of incitement and subsidizing of terror. It is my hope that by enacting this bill, we can put an end to the Palestinian Authority’s disturbing practice, all while honoring the memory and sacrifice of Taylor Force.”

Walking the walk

Veteran diplomat, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger told World Israel News that the message should be very clear. “The Taylor Force act has critical value in spite of fact that it was diluted by the Senate. The critical importance is the message sent to the Palestinian Authority and the world that the US is determined to confront the threat of Islamic terror.”

Ettinger said that the US “is now walking the walk, and not only talking the talk. The meaning is that Washington will no longer tolerate the PA’s behavior which includes hate education, incitement in mosques and payments to families of terrorists. Gone are the days when the US was willing to overlook such violations of what peace is really all about.”

Mark Zell, head of Republicans in Israel told WIN, “The passage of the Taylor Force Act represents a clear and unequivocal message to the Palestinians that their incitement and support for terror will not be countenanced. It’s no longer business as usual in DC. The US is serious about peace, but not at any cost.”

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Terror payments ‘totally unacceptable’

Dan Diker from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs told WIN, “Abbas and the PA have been put on notice by the US government that payments to terrorists and their families are totally unacceptable. Some exceptions were built into the law, so that funding for crucial, humanitarian projects will continue. The important thing is that Israel succeeded to put the issue of payments to terrorists on the agenda, and it has now become a major international issue. The Knesset will soon pass a similar law. What remains to be seen is whether the Europeans will follow the US example. Until now they have been willfully blind. This could pave the way for Britain, France and Germany to follow suit, at least to some degree.”

Diker credits the efforts of New York Jewish hedge fund owner Sander Gerber with being the driving force, lobbying for the legislation. At a speech before the influential Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Gerber coined the phrase, “pay to slay,” demanding action to stop to the PA law that administers financial payments to convicted terrorists and the families of Palestinians who commit violence against Israelis or Americans.

Gerber took action on this issue after Force’s murder in 2016. “I contacted his family, who are such special and warm people,” Gerber told The Jewish Week. The Force family was “determined to create positive out of their loss,” Gerber said, and together we went to Washington to start lobbying on the issue.”

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Contacted in New York, Gerber told WIN, “We have much to celebrate. The Taylor Force Act memorializes an ‘American Favorite Son/Patriot.’ Stuart (Force’s father) told me a few nights ago that he wished more people could have met his son, and that he just doesn’t want terrorists to take away more lives. The Taylor Force Act is a first realistic step towards peace by recognizing that the PA is a terror-sponsoring entity. I believe it is a significant step in the fight against terror, to highlight that regardless of labels, Congress will no longer condone rewards for Palestinian violence against innocents.”