The US Congress should pass legislation that would cut off American funding of the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families, a former Israeli defense minister told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.
“The Taylor Force Act is a very important bill,” Moshe Ya’alon — a retired IDF lieutenant general — said. “It is immoral to ignore the ‘pay-for-slay’ phenomenon. It is immoral to ignore the promotion of terror by the PLO. It is immoral to ignore the encouragement by the PA of the murder of Israelis.”
Following a distinguished 37-year military career that was capped off with a three-year stint as IDF chief of staff in the early 2000s, Ya’alon entered politics as a member of the Likud Party and was appointed defense minister in March 2013 — a post he served in until resigning in May 2016 over a dispute with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In his interview with The Algemeiner, the 67-year-old Ya’alon — now the head of the Manhigut Aheret NGO — took issue with a letter published last week by Commanders for Israel’s Security (a group of hundreds of ex-Israeli defense officials) that warned of potential negative consequences of the Taylor Force Act.
“I don’t agree with the claim that the PA is going to collapse,” Ya’alon said. “I heard this claim before Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 from retired Israeli commanders and experts who rejected the idea to move from defense to offense after we had absorbed more than a thousand casualties. They were proven to be wrong.”
“Rejecting the Taylor Force Act means being blackmailed by the PA, surrendering to terror and legitimizing the phenomenon,” Ya’alon emphasized.
The legislation, Ya’alon went on to say, would likely not harm security cooperation between Israel and the PA “as it is in the interest of both sides to maintain and develop it.”
Asked what, if any, impact the passage of the bill would have on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Ya’alon replied, “Is there a peace process? Is [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas ready to recognize Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people in any boundaries? He tries to roll back the Balfour Declaration.”
“Israel has to operate according to its interests, based on the assumption that there is no chance for a final settlement in the coming future, on one hand, and we don’t want to rule the PA or to have a binational state, on the other hand,” he stated.
Since President Donald Trump entered the White House in January, Ya’alon said, “there has been a change in the US approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. So far it seems that the Trump administration deals with this challenge in a more realistic way than its predecessor.”
The Taylor Force Act — named after the 28-year-old US military veteran who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in a March 2016 stabbing attack in Tel Aviv — was introduced in February by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado but has made no legislative progress since.
While Trump has never publicly mentioned the Taylor Force Act itself, he did raise the terror payments issue with Abbas during their recent meetings.
(C) 2017 . The Algemeiner Barney Breen-Portnoy