Senate Foreign Relations Committee Strengthens Taylor Force Act in Advance of Forthcoming Vote
Palestinian opposition to ending the policy of “martyr payments” could face a potentially insurmountable obstacle in the form of revised legislation governing American aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is expected to be voted on during the fall session of Congress.
A revised version of the Taylor Force Act — amended by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in advance of a vote this Thursday — places even more stringent conditions on aid to the PA as long as it operates a policy dubbed by critics as “pay-to-slay.” Currently, the PA spends more than $300 million of foreign aid money per year on monthly salaries to terrorists and their families that far outstrip the wages paid to Palestinian professionals, including the PA’s own civil servants.
Named in memory of former US Army officer Taylor Force — who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in Tel Aviv in March 2016 — the act, if passed, would restrict aid to the PA until the State Department certifies that it is no longer inciting and funding terrorist violence. Palestinian leaders have until now resolutely rejected any compromise over the policy, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas declaring he would give up his post before ending the payments.
Among the notable changes marked up by the Foreign Relations Committee is a clause calling on all donor countries that fund the PA to “cease direct budgetary support until the Palestinian Authority stops all payments incentivizing terror.” This demand is aimed in the main at European countries.
The conditions through which the PA receives US aid would also be tightened. The PA would be required to revoke “any law, decree, regulation, or document authorizing or implementing a system of compensation” for terrorists and their families — a wording broad enough to cover the potential loopholes involved in navigating the PA’s complex rules for the payments.
In addition, as part of its certification of PA compliance, the State Department would be required to submit an annual declassified report specifying the dollar amount spent by the PA on terror payments, as well as its general progress in ending incitement.
The revised version of the act also addresses humanitarian concerns about cuts in legitimate aid to needy Palestinians. The six medical facilities comprising the East Jerusalem Hospital Network — which provide medical services unavailable to Palestinians in the West Bank — are exempted from the restrictions.