The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed the Taylor Force Act, which would cut U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if the PA does not halt it payments to convicted terrorists and their families.
“This bill is pretty simple: If you finance or reward terrorism, you don’t deserve a penny from the United States,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said after the vote.
“The Palestinian Authority should be forced to choose between its despicable practice of paying terrorists’ salaries and receiving foreign aid funded by the American taxpayer,” he said. “And until that time comes, no government that supports the murder of innocent civilians can claim to be a serious partner for peace.”
The passage was swiftly praised by Jewish and pro-Israel groups.
“U.S aid to the Palestinian Authority is important, but must never be carte blanche,” said American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris. “The House has taken a crucial step towards ending the PA’s intentional misuse of foreign assistance to financially reward Palestinian terrorists and their families.”
Members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) have sent more than 1 million emails to Congress in support of the Taylor Force Act, CUFI said Tuesday.
“It’s rare that an issue in Washington is so clear cut and unambiguous, but CUFI was the first major pro-Israel organization to publicly support the Taylor Force Act because we simply cannot abide American taxpayer dollars going to an entity that incites violence and pays terrorists,” said CUFI Action Fund Chairwoman Sandra Parker.
The Israel Project’s CEO Josh Block said, “The bipartisan measure passed today will send a very clear warning to the Palestinian Authority: the double-game is over and terrorism will not be tolerated, not in any form. Those who enable, inspire or incite will also pay a price.”
Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament called the passage “a giant step toward ending the Palestinian Authority’s grotesque practice of ‘pay-for-slay.’”
Yet the current legislation does not call for a total cutoff of U.S. aid to the Palestinians. Instead, it freezes financial assistance provided by the U.S., with the exceptions of security cooperation and some humanitarian relief, until the PA stops the terror payments and takes “credible steps” to end violence.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) introduced the Taylor Force Act in September 2016.
The PA’s terror payments currently total about $300 million annually. Payments to imprisoned terrorists increase in proportion to the length of their sentences.
The American legislation is named for a former U.S. Army officer who was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in Jaffa last year.
The bill, which was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August, will now head to the Senate for a full vote. The Trump administration voiced its “strong support” for the legislation in September.