By Mary Orndorff Troyan, Greenville Online—
A Kiawah Island couple’s letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham about their son’s death in Israel has prompted the South Carolina senator to threaten U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Graham, along with Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., say the U.S. should stop all economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it stops financially rewarding people described by the three senators as terrorists who commit acts of violence against Israel.
Taylor Force, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, was killed in March while in Jaffa during a trip for his graduate-degree program. The Palestinian attacker, who also wounded 10 others, was shot and killed.
Congress has previously required that U.S. aid be reduced by the same amount the Palestinian Authority spends to support terror suspects and their families. Graham said the legislation introduced Tuesday would target all economic assistance.
“This bill is not a result of animosity toward the Palestinian people, it’s a pushback against state-sponsored terrorism,” Graham said.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has provided more than $5 billion in economic and security assistance to the Palestinians, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Graham was joined at a Capitol Hill press conference by Stuart and Robbi Force, who moved to South Carolina six years ago.
“We decided this is what we wanted to do with our golden years,” Stuart Force said.
He said his son survived active-duty deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan only to be killed in Israel, while pursuing a masters’ degree from Vanderbilt University.
Coats dismissed arguments that the payments made by the Palestinian Authority aim to reintegrate prisoners back into society and prevent them from being recruited by terrorist organizations.
“This is a moral outrage,” Coats said.
With the congressional session drawing to a close, the legislation has no chance of passing this year, but Graham said he considered it the start of a long process to draw attention to how the Palestinian Authority misuses U.S. economic aid intended to make the region more stable.