Now Is the Time to Pass the Taylor Force Act
The Taylor Force Act stipulates that American aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) be conditioned on the discontinuation of their longstanding sponsorship of terrorism through payments (called “salaries”) to jailed terrorists, and the families of deceased terrorists.
After the past two weeks — when five Israelis have been killed and others injured in a wave of riots and terror attacks that the PA helped to incite — there has never been a better time to pass the Taylor Force Act. Doing so would demonstrate that the continued Palestinian sponsorship and incitement of terrorism will not be accepted, and that those involved in such activities will not be considered credible parties to peace negotiations.
The Waqf (which administers the Temple Mount), and other Muslim sources have claimed that some of the demonstrations were in protest of the metal detectors that were installed at the Muslim entrances to the Temple Mount. Yet these positions ignore the fact that the metal detectors (which have since been removed due to unfair pressure on Israel) were only installed after terrorists killed two Israeli policemen at the Temple Mount; that this was not the first jihadi attack there; that subsequent searches revealed more weaponry at the site; and that the metal detectors did not restrict access to or the freedom of worship at the Temple Mount — nor alter the Waqf’s exclusive Muslim control within the compound.
Regardless of one’s position regarding the metal detectors, the violent demonstrations that the PA, Fatah and the Waqf called for and organized — and their accusations that Israel was attempting to alter the status quo at the Temple Mount (an accusation that has traditionally been interpreted by Muslims as a call to violence) — were clearly unacceptable. In addition to the riots and terror attacks, PA President Mahmoud Abbas also announced the suspension of all relations between the PA and Israel.
The Taylor Force Act was named after a deceased American soldier who was stabbed to death by a jihadi terrorist in Israel. Progression of the act in the US Congress has been complicated by fears that its passage could destabilize the PA, and endanger security coordination between the PA and Israel.
It is true that security coordination between the PA and Israel has often been of critical significance — and warnings about the consequences of undermining that coordination come from the highest levels of the Israeli security establishment. Maintaining calm, though, involves more than preventing attacks. Peace depends on the emergence of a mentality of non-violence, pluralism and freedom. Ending sympathy for terrorism is more important — in the long-run — than one-off interceptions of terrorists, terrorist organizations and terror infrastructure.
Unconditional support for a PA that selectively alternates between security coordination and incitement in order to maintain control over Palestinian streets will not make Israel safer. The PA’s donors must hold them accountable for making the fundamental changes that will lead to the emergence of a democratic mentality on the Palestinian street. Furthermore, concern about undermining security coordination is mooted by the fact that the PA has demonstrated its willingness to suspend ties with Israel regardless of the Taylor Force Act.
Metal detectors have become a normal part of modern life, especially in Israel — where they are found at the entrances to bus stations, malls, the Western Wall and even the entrance that non-Muslims must use when visiting the Temple Mount. Putting metal detectors in front of the entrances for Muslims was a common-sense security measure that should not have created a crisis — and it should not have been reversed. But even taking their concerns at face value, Abbas and the Waqf could have asserted their disagreement non-violently.
What consequence will they face for choosing riots instead? Passing the Taylor Force Act would be a good place to start.
After growing up in Pennsylvania, Baruch Stein now lives in Jerusalem. Previous columns of his have appeared in media outlets in both the United States and Israel.