David Friedman arrives at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination of to be US ambassador to Israel.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Reacting on Twitter to the murder of a rabbi by Palestinians on Tuesday night, David Friedman, the US ambassador, said the episode spoke to the core issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“An Israeli father of six was killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists,” the ambassador wrote. “Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards.
“Look no further to why there is no peace,” the diplomat added.
Friedman was referring to a program at the heart of a bill fast proceeding through Congress that Ramallah warns will lead to the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority.
The Taylor Force Act threatens a dramatic cut in aid to the PA if it continues its decades-old scheme of compensating families of Palestinians convicted in Israel of murder and terrorism, and the families of slain terrorists. Israel and the US argue that the program, referred to by the PA as a “martyr” fund, is immoral and contrary to the pursuit of peace; Palestinians claim it compensates families of the wrongfully convicted and legitimate combatants in the “resistance,” representing a welfare program essential to the PA’s support.
Friedman’s comment on the program was critically timed. A senior White House official told The Jerusalem Post
over the weekend that US President Donald Trump “strongly supports” the Taylor Force Act, all but assuring he will sign it into law once it reaches his desk.
And the bill is almost there, having passed through the full House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support.
It is just one vehicle with which the US is threatening severe aid cuts to the Palestinians. The administration is also looking at cutting funding from UN programs with anti-Israel biases, and has threatened to shutter the PLO office in Washington for failing to enter meaningful peace talks with Israel.
Trump underscored his willingness to cut PA funding in a tweet of his own last week.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” the president said.
“With the Palestinians no willing to talk peace,” he added, “why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”