There’s a new bill being debated in Congress that’s just bound to upset Palestinians and their supporters – a bill that will pull all U.S. foreign aid funding from the Palestinian government if they don’t stop funding terrorists.
Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Not to them.
In his first diplomatic tour since being elected president, Donald Trump met with Israeli government officials, along with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas, saying he was confident that both Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were both ready to negotiate peace. However, he also decried Palestinian practice of “pay for slay,” saying, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded.”
Additionally, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, three weeks ago, confirmed that the president had asked Abbas (who is also chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization) during a private meeting to end the government’s practice of paying the salaries of terrorists housed in Israeli prisons.
But it hasn’t only been Israelis who’ve been harmed by Palestine’s support of terror. In March of 2016, American citizen Taylor Force was stabbed to death in Tel Aviv in front of his friends during a terrorist attack carried out by a Palestinian. Taylor was a graduate of West Point and had served in both Iraq in Afghanistan.
The man who killed Taylor, Hamas member Bashar Massalha, also stabbed 11 other people, including a pregnant woman, before he was shot dead by IDF forces.
Massalha’s actions were widely praised by political parties within the Palestinian Authority, including Hamas. The group’s read at the time, "We applaud the courageous attacks in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Yafo. This is proof of the failure of all the conspiracies meant to eradicate the intifada, which will continue until its goals are achieved."
For his part, Abbas refused to condemn the attack. Beyond that, his party in Ramallah Fatah praised the attack, repeating that Massalha was a martyr for Palestine and that the attacks would continue until Israel recognized Palestine as its own state.
In 2014, the Palestinian Authority was forced to close their ministry of prison affairs after watchdog Palestinian Media Watch uncovered that the PA had spent $112 million in donor funds on paying out terrorists and their families. But instead of ending the practice, critics say the Palestinian Authority government simply diverted the same funding through the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
The Taylor Force Act (H.R 1164) would condition all aid to the Palestinian Authority Unity Government unless they cease all payments to terrorists in prisons and to families of so-called jihadist “martyrs.”
It’s a threat the U.S. has made before, even as recently as 2011, when the Palestinian Authority formed a unified government with the terrorist group Hamas. At that time, the P.A. ignored the threats.
Azzam Ahmed, spokesman for Abbas, stated at the time, "The Palestinians need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid."
This bill seems to be more relevant than ever, as Abbas actually increased the salaries paid to both current and would-be terrorists. Palestinian Media Watch’s Itamar Marcus reports that the secretary general of the National Association of the Martyrs' Families of Palestine (an actual agency of the PLO) has announced that the salaries of terrorists and their families are set to go up. On top of that, the benefits to any terrorist who commits acts of violence includes a job with the Palestinian Authority after release, a lump sum if sentenced to several life sentences, and a bonus for multiple attacks.
CNSNews.com reports that in 2016, the Palestinian Authority allocated $137.8 million for prisoners and their families, and $172.5 million for the families of terrorists who died carrying out their attacks.