By Lamont Colucci
U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force survived Iraq and Afghanistan only to be killed by terrorists on an educational trip. The West Point graduate was killed by a terrorist while in Israel in March of 2016. Force’s murder could of just become another statistic but, instead it inspired congressional action.
Congressman Doug Lamborn (Republican from Colorado) implemented the passage of the Taylor Force Act last month. The goal of this new piece of legislation is “to condition assistance to the West Bank and Gaza on steps by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to end violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens.” It calls on the American representative to the United Nations to use her influence in the UN to highlight payments made by the Palestinian Authority that support terrorism, such as payments made to dead or imprisoned terrorist’s families.
“The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, gives financial rewards for terrorist attacks,” said Lamborn’s speech in a December 2017 speech, “The more people killed in an attack, the higher the financial reward. Families of terrorists receive a pension for life, which is triple the average salary in the West Bank, as well as receiving free tuition and health insurance, a clothing allowance, and a monthly stipend.”
It calls on the United States Department of State to engage with nations that support peace between Israel and Palestine to highlight PA payments benefiting terrorism and use pressure on the PA to cease such activity.
“[It is] a clear expectation to the Palestinian Authority and also the Palestinian Liberation Organization that the policy where they would give so-called martyr payments – those payments to terrorists and their families have to stop,” said Department of State Heather Nauert in a March 2018 press-briefing,” The United States has been clear about that. Those kinds of compensation schemes incentivize violence against Israeli but also American citizens as well. We as an administration and Republicans and Democrats find that simply unacceptable.”
The Taylor Force Act further calls on UN donor nations to stop payments to the Palestinian Authority unless payments for terrorism are discontinued. Certain exemptions are made for donations to assist medical care and for children.
The Palestinian Authority believes these payments serve to limit the influence of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group which controls the Gaza Strip but, has limited influence in the West Bank.
Husam Zomlot (Head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States) stated that the Taylor Force Act is “a tool for a politically-motivated financial pressure does not work, and severely damages the prospects for peace in the Middle East…The bill rewards the illegal Israeli occupation and ongoing violations of human rights, while simultaneously punishing the Palestinian Authority, which is the only agency committed to peace and nonviolence, and undermines the American-Palestinian bilateral relationship and decades of U.S investments in the two-state solution…The Taylor Force Act represents the most recent effort in this 30-year-old trend of legislations that deliberately targets the Palestinian people.”
Sometimes referred to as the “pay for slay” program, the Palestinian Authority has lavishly rewarded terrorism, costing the PA 2.5% of their GDP and benefiting about 13,000 Palestinians in the form of prisoner payments, and 33,700 families. The family of Taylor Force’s murder benefited from these monthly payments at the time of the passage of the act..
The Taylor Force Act sends an important message to the Palestinian leadership that the United States takes the issue of terrorism against Israelis very seriously,” Michael Koplow, Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum told the American Media Institute, “Congress also took the necessary step of preserving particularly vital forms of humanitarian aid that benefit ordinary Palestinians, such as childhood vaccines, and wisely did not take measures that would impact the aid that goes to training and equipping the Palestinian Authority Security Forces and ensuring their continued coordination with Israel. “
Koplow noted that the bill that eventually emerged was a better one than an earlier version in part because it demonstrated “The need to carefully consider the potential unintended consequences of broad brush strokes in such a sensitive geopolitical arena. I hope that the Taylor Force Act accomplishes its goal, and leads the Palestinian Authority to reconsider its policies and priorities.”
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