Dueling generals in war of words over Taylor Force Act

One side argues the need for PA stability and security coordination, the other touts logic, law and morality.

June 27, 2017 01:41
3 minute read.
Taylor Force

Taylor Force, 29, was killed by a Palestinian terrorist who went on a stabbing rampage in Jaffa on March 8, 2016. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)


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Every side of an argument, it seems, can muster Israeli generals and security mavens to give it support.

Last week the Commanders for Israel’s Security, a group of 265 top-ranking security officials, issued a public letter in English saying a piece of proposed US legislation that would cut funding to the Palestinian Authority if it continued payments to convicted terrorist and their families – the Taylor Force Act – would undermine the stability of the Palestinian Authority, thereby undermining Israeli security.

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The letter asserts that continued and enhanced security coordination with the PA is good for Israel’s security. The proposed legislation, the letter stated, would harm that coordination.

“The government of Israel will do well to alert the Washington legislators to the potential adverse consequences of this bill,” the letter said.

“If enacted, this legislation might undermine PA stability; expand the circle of frustration and hostility; erode the security coordination; and thus hurt Israeli security,” the letter continued. “Demanding that the PA ends incitement, continues fighting terror, and upgrades security coordination with our forces – certainly! Hindering the PA’s ability to do all that – absolutely not!”

Though the organization includes security luminaries – such as former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, former Directors of Mossad Zvi Zamir, Shabtai Shavit and Danny Yatom, and former Air Force Commanders Amos Lapidot and Avihu Ben-Nun – no individual names were attached to the letter that was put out on the organization’s stationery.

The bill in question, named after the US student and US army veteran Taylor Force who was killed by a terrorists in Jaffa in 2016, has been co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham and two of his Republican colleagues, and is winding through the US legislative process.

On Tuesday, another letter – presenting a counterargument and also signed by some leading generals – was circulated, saying that the Commanders for Israel’s Security got it all wrong.

This letter, also in English, written by retired Brig.-Gen Yossi Kuperwasser, former chief of the Military Intelligence’s research division, was co-signed by former Defense Minister and chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, and former generals Uzi Dayan, Gershon Hacohen and Oded Tira.

This letter stated that providing funds to the PA and thereby enabling it to keep paying the salaries of terrorists is “illogical, illegal and immoral. Most of all it’s inhuman.

Are the Americans taxpayers expected to pay for those who solicit our murder?” Secondly, the letter stated that the PA will stop paying these stipends only if they feel pressure.

“The US, Europe and Israel have approached the Palestinians on this matter many times and beyond cosmetic adjustments nothing has changed,” the letter stated. “Even faced with direct demands from the new administration, the PA makes it clear that they are not going to make a real change in their terror payments policy. Only real tangible pressure will make them seriously consider the need to change.”

The letter asserted that there was no reason to believe that PA security cooperation with Israel would be adversely affected if the Taylor Force Law was to pass, since that security cooperation also serves the interests of the PA.

Much of the security cooperation is focused on thwarting terror attacks planned by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Islamic State, the letter read. “These attacks may kill Israelis, but are also intended to embarrass the PA and weaken it in the power struggle against Hamas.”

The letter also stated that the US bill would not lead to the collapse of the PA, since PA President Mahmoud Abbas “has said the establishment of the PA is the most important achievement of the Palestinian national movement, and it would be illogical for the Palestinians to dismantle it.”

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