Bipartisan-backed law a potential step toward real peace.
It alone won’t stop the Palestinian Authority’s mindless practice of inciting violence and subsidizing terror against anyone or anything Zionist.
But the newly enacted Taylor Force Act, which mandates slashing U.S. aid to the P.A. until the practice ceases, could help cultivate a Palestinian culture that recognizes, rather than isolates, Israel and Jews.
The financially stressed P.A. can’t go on marginalizing the U.S., acting as if the Palestinian people can do without American aid and treating Israelis as perceived squatters on Palestinian land.
The Ramallah-based P.A., through its lead political faction Fatah, self-governs Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank. The Taylor Force Act will cut off U.S. funding that directly benefits Palestinian-controlled areas while humanitarianly keeping some basic support for those areas.
To help curb chaos within the P.A., the bipartisan-passed act allows continued U.S. support for P.A. security, water service, childhood vaccinations and east Jerusalem hospitals.
The Taylor Force Act became law on March 23 as part of a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill approved by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Donald Trump.
Besides addressing P.A. terrorist salaries, the bill helps fund Israeli security and missile defense and helps Israel counter terrorist tunnels dug by Hamas — the terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip and a rival political faction of Fatah in the tenuous battle for ultimate control of the Palestinian people.
Eyeing Better Times
The Taylor Force Act no doubt could have been tougher. But it’s a potentially transformative stride toward the prized and elusive goal of resolving a conflict decades old. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet: “I think this is a powerful message from the United States that changes the rules.”
It sure does.
The Taylor Force Act is a potentially transformative stride toward the prized and elusive goal of resolving a conflict decades old.
The act mandates holding the P.A. accountable while seeking an end to the Palestinians paying blood money to terrorists jailed by Israel and to families of “martyred” terrorists. The way forward requires “pay to slay” to meet its demise.
P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, never the political moderate he has been paraded as, vows the custom will openly and defiantly continue despite the Taylor Force Act. His government said Palestinian suffering caused by Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian land is responsible for Israel “throwing” into jail young Palestinians wanting only a better way of life.
The P.A. insists monthly payouts of up to $3,500 serve as “welfare” for Palestinians held by Israel and for families of “martyred jihadists” who died resisting the “occupation.” That mindset obscures that payouts not only incentivize terrorists into murdering and maiming believers of the Jewish state, but also go toward weapons used later in terrorist attacks.
The Taylor Force Act is named for a Vanderbilt University M.B.A. student, a 28-year-old former U.S. Army officer from Lubbock, Texas, who was stabbed to death in a March 2016 terrorist attack while studying in the old section of Tel Aviv. Ten others were hurt in that attack.
In a brazen illustration of P.A. illogic, the P.A. justified Force’s killing as the work of a “heroic martyr.” In 2017, the P.A. budgeted a stunning $350 million, 7 percent of its total budget, to pay 6,300 jailed terrorists as well as 26,800 families of terrorists killed or injured as “martyrs” for Allah.
In 2017, the U.S. allocated upwards of $300 million toward Palestinian assistance in the West Bank and Gaza. The allocation was routed largely through non-governmental organizations, such as the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency. The U.S. also allocated $35 million to the P.A. for law enforcement and narcotics control in the West Bank.
Until now, U.S. law mandated a drop in Palestinian aid equal to the amount paid by the P.A. and other Palestinian leadership organizations to terrorists or to families of terrorists. That law clearly wasn’t enforced to the fullest out of fear of destabilizing the beleaguered region.
Given the public scrutiny it has garnered, the Taylor Force Act not only should be scrupulously enforced, but also should help the U.S. and Israel regain lost bargaining leverage.
A Stern Challenge
Much anticipated, the Taylor Force Act will succeed only if it manages to halt financial reward for terrorists and their families and, at the same time, advance peace prospects.
Therein lies a daunting hurdle.
Ending terrorist payments wouldn’t simultaneously reverse the culture of hate toward Israel and Jews that permeates Palestinian society. Without such reversal, slow as it would be, the essence of what constitutes a Palestinian would be rooted in a system of values antithetical to civilized morality, regional peace and Palestinian statehood.
The hatred echoes through Palestinian homes, schools, mosques, news outlets, music videos, sports tournaments and public squares. It will take generations to foster a new culture of engagement, opportunity and coexistence.
The Taylor Force Act just might help create the climate for a dramatic shift in attitude by phasing out the anti-Zionist practice infamously branded “pay to slay.”
Peace between Israel, an independent Jewish state, and the Palestinians, alienated by the wider Arab world, will remain a pipedream in the absence of brokered bilateral, direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Even a hint of such talks isn’t in the winds of possibility until the Palestinian Authority terminates terrorist payouts — in reality, a means toward encouraging terror not only against Israelis, but also toward anyone visiting the Jewish ancestral homeland.
Someone such as Taylor Force.