By Michael Wilner, JPost—
The PLO excoriated Congress on Friday for passing the Taylor Force Act, a law that threatens to freeze State Department funds to the Palestinian Authority unless it ends its longstanding practice of compensating terrorists and the families of terrorists convicted in Israeli courts.
The PLO envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, dismissed the effort as politically motivated. The pressure “does not work, and severely damages the prospects for peace in the Middle East,” he said.
The Taylor Force Act, named after a US Army veteran murdered by a Palestinian in Jaffa in 2016, was signed into law on Friday by President Donald Trump, as part of an omnibus spending package passed by Congress the previous day.
The bill, Zomlot said, “punishes” the PA, “which is the only agency committed to peace and nonviolence, and undermines the American-Palestinian bilateral relationship and decades of US investments in the two-state solution.
“The Taylor Force Act represents the most recent effort in this 30-year-old trend of legislations that deliberately targets the Palestinian people,” Zomlot continued, accusing the US Congress of “flagrant bias.”
The bill was originally introduced by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, with exclusively GOP support. But the legislation gained Democratic backing after congressional negotiations watered down some of its strongest provisions.
The law requires a halt in US financial assistance to the PA should it refuse to end the “martyr” compensation scheme, which rewards the families of slain terrorists, and of convicted terrorists and murderers with monthly stipends sized relative to their prison sentence. Still, the law retains aid for the PA allocated to security cooperation, and some humanitarian relief.
The legislation passed the House of Representatives in December with bipartisan support.
Graham called the bill “one of the most significant pieces of legislation I’ve been involved with.”
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan expressed gratitude to Congress over the weekend for passing the Taylor Force Act, which he said would significantly help in “the struggle against Abbas’s incitement to terrorism and murder.”
Erdan said he was glad that Abbas could no longer take American money with one hand and fund terrorists and their families with the other. He called on the Knesset to complete the process of legislating a similar bill in Israel.
“This is a critical step in the fight against terrorism and stopping its funding,” Erdan said.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.