The US Senate chambers.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Thursday morning to proceed with the Taylor Force Act, after its leadership made significant revisions to the legislation in consultation with the Trump administration, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The bill – which threatens to cut aid to the PA should it continue with its program of paying staying stipends to Palestinians convicted of terrorist acts by Israel, and to the families of slain terrorists – was originally drafted exclusively by Republican lawmakers. But its language has been amended in an effort to broaden support and provide the executive branch with flexibility in punishing the PA.
A White House official told The Jerusalem Post
last month that President Donald Trump agrees with the legislation in principle: “The administration agrees with the high-level goals of the Taylor Force Act,” the official said. A senior staffer for the committee chairman, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), said Trump officials had provided guidance for the bill throughout the markup phase, the process of amending the bill.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee appeared to endorse the legislation on Wednesday, encouraging committee members on Twitter to vote “yes.” Once it passes committee, the legislation will be considered by the full Senate.
A source familiar with the revised legislation says that more Democratic support is expected from the committee beyond Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, currently the only Democratic co-sponsor.
The revised bill would compel the State Department to cut off funding to the PA, but “spells out the steps by which payments to the PA could resume,” said the office of Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who authored the legislation.
In order to restore US funding, the PA would have to revoke any law, decree or document authorizing a compensation scheme for prisoners “that uses the sentence or period of incarceration to determine the level of compensation paid.”
The secretary of state would also have to certify that the PA “has terminated payments for acts of terrorism against American and Israeli citizens after [the attackers] being fairly tried and who have been imprisoned for such acts of terrorism, including the family members of the convicted individuals.” The PA would also have to take “credible steps” against incitement to violence against Israelis and Americans.
“We absolutely cannot accept a policy that rewards acts of terrorism like the one that tragically took the life of Taylor Force,” said Corker, referring to the namesake of the bill – a US Army veteran who was murdered in Jaffa last year.
“This legislation will force the Palestinian Authority to make a choice,” Corker said: “Either face the consequences of stoking violence or end this detestable practice immediately.”
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