Senate panel approves bill to cut off funds to Palestinians over terrorism

Senate panel approves bill to cut off funds to Palestinians over terrorism
© Greg Nash

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would restrict funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops offering rewards to those who commit acts of violence against Israelis and others.

The Taylor Force Act passed the committee in a 16-5 vote and now heads to the Senate floor. 

The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTop Louisiana health official rips Cassidy over ObamaCare repeal bill Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-S.C.) and is named after an American, 28-year-old Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian last year in a Tel Aviv attack that also wounded 12 others.

The Palestinian Authority regularly offers financial compensation to the families of terrorists. Critics have dubbed it “pay to slay” and say the Palestinian Authority spends as much as $300 million a year on the program.

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“This is a big day for me, a big day for the Taylor Force family, and a step forward to rationality in the Middle East,” Graham said at a press conference after the vote."

“Our goal is to change a practice that corrupts the Palestinian youth inconsistent with peace,” he added.

The bill would cut off direct funds until the secretary of State certifies that the Palestinian Authority has taken “credible steps to end acts of violence against United States and Israeli citizens” and has “terminated payments for acts of terrorism against U.S. and Israeli citizens.”

There is a similar bill in the House.

“'Pay to slay' must end and U.S. tax dollars certainly should stop being used on behalf of the PA as long as 'pay to slay' continues,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who backs the House version, told The Hill.

According to a report in the Times of Israel, the White House has said it backs the “goals” of the bill but has not formally endorsed it.

Force was a Boy Scout and West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the time of his murder, he was with a Vanderbilt University study group.

His attacker was shot and killed by authorities during the attack. The killer’s family received money through the Palestinian Authority’s “Martyr’s Fund.”

“At the end of the day, the payment to people who kill Taylor Force or people like Taylor Force is inconsistent with peace,” Graham said. “And is such a crime against young Palestinians for their own government to incentivize murder and terrorism.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee hailed the vote and urged the full Senate to pass the bill.

"For many years, AIPAC has pressed to end this PA practice that incentivizes terrorism and sets back the pursuit of peace," the group said in a statement.