"The purveyors of fake news don't quit," Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the US, said on Monday night at the Christians United for Israel summit in Washington.
The Israeli envoy hit hard against media outlets claims that Israel is worried the US will pass the Taylor Force Act, introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham.
Named after Taylor Force, an American citizen who was murdered in a terror attack in Israel in March 2016, if passed the Senate bill would cut off funding for the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay families of convicted murderers and terrorists.
"I can assure you that Israel is not the slightest bit concerned that the Taylor Force Act will pass. Israel would be concerned if the Taylor Force Act didn't pass," Dermer told the crowd. "Israel believes that the United States should end economic assistance to any government that pays people to kill Jews. Period."
While the Palestinian Authority claims that this payment policy had been in place for years and mostly benefits the families of legitimate combatants and not terrorists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Palestinian policy immoral and an impediment to peace.
"Fake news always ignores the poison that has been taught, preached, and broadcast to a generation of young Palestinians since the Oslo Accords were signed 25 years ago. Fake news refuses to expose the Palestinian glorification of terrorists, the naming of public squares after mass-murderers, and the ghoulish practice of the Palestinian Authority paying a lifetime salary to terrorists who murder Jews," Dermer said, further challenging the PA's claims.
The bill has raised some concern among Democratic senators and Commanders for Israel’s Security
, a group representing hundreds of retired Israeli military officials, who suggested that the new legislation would also slash funding used for vital economic projects in the Palestinian Authority. This would “undermine PA stability; expand the circle of frustration and hostility; erode the security coordination,” warned the former IDF officials in a public letter.
During a hearing on the proposed Taylor Force Act held on July 12 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, virtually every member expressed dismay over the PA program and an interest in seeing its end. But several took issue with specific provisions of the legislation under review. Currently only one Democrat has publicly endorsed the bill: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
According to Israeli media reports, the US Senate is engaging in a bipartisan effort to revise the bill, adding a distinction between US funds that benefit the Palestinians as a whole and funds that support the Palestinian Authority. If these changes are implemented, the bill is expected to pass in a matter of weeks.
Other speakers at the 12th annual Christians United for Israel summit included US Vice President Mike Pence, Deputy Assistant to Trump Sebastian Gorka, and former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the summit via satellite.Michael Wilner contributed to this report.