The bipartisan Taylor Force Act was signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2018. It directs the U.S. government to stop aid payments to the Palestinian Authority as long as the PA continues to pay stipends to individuals (or the families of individuals) who commit acts of terror. The bill was named in honor of Taylor Force, a West Point graduate who served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in 2016 while he was visiting Israel as part of a university study group.
Shortly after the passage of the Taylor Force Act, the Trump administration froze financial aid to the PA and halted funding for UNRWA and the USAID office for the West Bank and Gaza. In 2021, the Biden administration announced that it was resuming aid to the Palestinians for U.N. relief efforts, for economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza and for peacebuilding programs. Those payments do not violate the Taylor Force Act since they are sent to organizations other than the PA.
Notwithstanding the Taylor Force Act, and a similar 2018 law passed by the Israeli Knesset that requires Israel to deduct the amount paid to Palestinian prisoners and families of terrorists from the tax revenue that Israel sends to the PA under the Oslo Accords, the PA’s pay-for-slay program continues.
Last week, independent efforts were initiated in the U.S. Senate and the Knesset to address ongoing PA sponsorship of terror activity. These efforts were in partial response to the rash of deadly Palestinian terror attacks that have left 14 Israelis dead since the beginning of the year, including the recent killing of American Israeli citizen Elan Ganeles.
In the U.S., Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) announced his intention to reintroduce the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act that targets foreign banks that are used as part of the PA process for pay-to-slay “martyr payments” by restricting banks that facilitate such payments or provide services to Hamas from doing business in the U.S. or with U.S. dollars. And in Israel, MK Yitzhak Pindrus of the United Torah Judaism Party offered legislation to enable terror victims to sue the PA for injuries and losses resulting from terror attacks and to collect any judgment amounts directly from the tax money frozen by Israel under its 2018 Taylor Force Act-inspired law. Under the current law, the tax funds are held by Israel and not available for any purpose.
The Cotton bill (and a companion House bill by Rep. Doug Lamborn [R-Colo.]) was first introduced in 2017 but was not brought for a vote in either the House or the Senate. The fate of Cotton’s new effort is uncertain. The Pindrus bill, however, is reported to have significant Knesset support from both coalition and opposition lawmakers.
We applaud the Pindrus bill and its objective of expanding meaningful financial recovery opportunities for terror victims, and we encourage strong consideration of the Cotton bill. We support efforts to bring ever-increasing pressure on the PA and its leadership to abandon the incendiary pay-for-slay martyr program. If the PA genuinely wants peace it needs to do everything in its power to stop terror activity rather than reward it. ■