Veteran Republican Senator Lindsey Graham: Peace Won’t Come Until Palestinian Authority Stops Incentivizing Terrorism
Two Republican senators will introduce legislation on Wednesday that would cut off US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay monetary rewards to terrorists and their families, The Algemeiner has learned.
Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — who will be holding a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning with Senator Dan Coats of Indiana to announce the bill — told The Algemeiner on Tuesday that he was “hoping to start a debate that is long overdue.”
“We’ve got to go ahead and put sunlight on this problem,” Graham said. “The PA incentivizes young Palestinians to commit acts of terror…I hope Congress will understand that this is inconsistent with the two-state solution and that we’ll build support [for the legislation] over time.”
Furthermore, the senator said, “there has to come a point of awakening here within Palestinian society. I want the Palestinians to make a decision as to what kind of people they are going to be. I know they’ve got problems, I’ve met [PA President Mahmoud] Abbas many times. I know Hamas is an out and out terrorist organization and the PA has a fairly good working relationship with the Israelis when it comes to security, but we’ve got to cross this bridge…American dollars are going to a government that literally rewards people for killing their neighbors. And until we get that addressed, I don’t think the peace process will ever move forward.”
Graham and Coats will be joined at Wednesday’s press conference by Stuart and Robbi Force — the parents of Taylor Force, who was the 28-year-old West Point graduate murdered in a stabbing attack carried out by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv in March.
Graham called Force’s death “the straw that broke the camel’s back” in terms of pushing him to move ahead with the legislation. Force’s parents live in South Carolina.
Coats told The Algemeiner in an interview earlier this month that the PA’s use of American taxpayer dollars to pay monetary rewards for terrorist acts was “morally repugnant and must be stopped.”
Graham said that he did not think the Obama administration would back the legislation because “they have been pathetically weak when it comes to all things related to terror.” But, Graham pointed out, the administration “will be leaving soon.”
“I know that Donald Trump supports this concept,” Graham said. “And we’ll see where Hillary Clinton is at. But I think there is growing bipartisan sentiment in the Congress — and in the Senate in particular – that the time has come to push back [against the PA].”
Graham also spoke with The Algemeiner on Tuesday about the new $38 billion ten-year memorandum of understanding on US military aid to Israel that was recently signed. The senator has been an outspoken critic of the MOU and he did not let up on Tuesday.
“Quite frankly, to flood the Iranians with $150 billion in sanctions relief that’s going into their military while nickel-and-diming Israel is not exactly the signal I want to send,” Graham said. “The threats to Israel are going up exponentially. And the Iranians are destabilizing the entire region. The more Iran threatens Israel, the more I want to help Israel…I will be aggressive in supporting Israel to let the Iranians know that America is not abandoning the region.”
Graham said there were a number of steps Congress could take to amend the MOU.
“I increased the MOU amount this year from 3.1 to 3.4 billion in my markup with complete bipartisan support,” he said. “I think a $300 million increase is warranted given the threats Israel faces from Iran and Hezbollah. We increased the MOU amount for Jordan two of the last three years and nobody said a thing. Now the administration is going crazy because I dared to increase the MOU amount.”
Graham vowed to “not let the MOU become a binding document on Congress.”
“That would destroy the separation of powers,” Graham said. “We’ll make our own decisions about the aid.”
Referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Graham said, “I like Bibi, I think he’s a good leader. However, quite frankly, from my point of view he left money on the table. But it’s his job to do the MOU and it’s my job to represent the Congress and have an independent voice in the matter.”