By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
In August, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted overwhelmingly to cut off economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless it stops paying stipends to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorism or killed while attacking Israelis.
The new legislation – which was named after Taylor Force, a former U.S. Army officer who was brutally stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in March 2016 during a Palestinian terror attack – sends a strong missive to the Palestinian Authority that Washington will no longer tolerate its two-faced, pseudo-condemnation of terrorism while at the same time financially remunerating the perpetrators of these heinous acts.
“Instead of condemning this horrific attack (against Force) – and so many others like it – the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists,” said Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s panel that oversees foreign assistance, who was one of the main drafters of the new bill.
“We are sending a strong message to the Palestinian Authority that this practice is wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with peace.”
The Taylor Force Act will not cut off all funding for Palestine, but it will create a temporary escrow fund to set aside some aid until the Mahmoud Abbas government stops disbursing so-called “martyr payments.”
NGOs and other independent organizations operating in the West Bank and Gaza will not be affected.
But all PA government funding will be frozen, which means that the PA will have to find new means to keep its blatantly corrupt and ineffective government operating.
The U.S. Treasury Department will hold the money for one year, during which time the PA will have to prove that it has abolished its rewarding of terrorist acts.
If the PA does not comply in that time period, the money will be reallocated to assist in other countries.
Last year alone, the PA shelled out $144 million in martyr payments.
The U.S. State Department has requested $215 million in economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza for 2018, and a good chunk of that money would have gone to bankrolling the families of terrorists.
Although the proposal to cull in the Palestinian Authority’s depraved and underhanded backing of terrorism was initially a Republican bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was one of its first cosponsors, and bipartisan support helped it pass without much resistance in the U.S. Congress.
Daniel Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, also supported the bill.
For Abbas, the jig is up.
His counterfeit veil of innocence has been stripped away and he can no longer pretend that he is not directly involved in promoting terrorism.
If he wants to keep his government running, he is going to have to stop placating and financing murder.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.