Last month, a Palestinian terrorist walked through the door of an Israeli home and brutally murdered three family members there for a Shabbat celebration of a newborn child.
For his act in the murders, the terrorist, wounded but not killed by an off-duty IDF soldier, will see his family receive roughly $3,200 a month in payments from the Palestinian Authority.
Sounds improbable, yet these payments are a real line item in the PA’s 2017 budget that accounts for more funds ($344 million) than those allocated for food, education and salaries.
On Thursday, August 3, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly voted, 17-4, to restrict U.S. funds to the Palestinian Authority until the secretary of state can certify that this act of payouts to terrorists or their surviving families has come to an end.
It is known as the Taylor Force Act, named after a West Point graduate and Vanderbilt graduate student who was killed last year by Palestinian terrorists in Tel Aviv. The bill received bipartisan support from its sponsor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Indeed, 11 Republican senators and six Democrats supported the measure.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) was a glaring “no” vote with three other Democrats. Glaring because he represents a state with an active Jewish community and he has historically received favorable Jewish support.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, applauded the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s vote. OU Advocacy Center Executive Director Nathan Diament did tweet “Disappointed @CoryBooker voted no.”
Still, the OU, which had worked for almost a year to build support for the Taylor Force Act, expressed appreciation for the bipartisan vote.
“This strong bipartisan vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today moves towards ensuring that the U.S. will not tolerate—or pay for—violence and terrorism against Israelis, Americans and others. This bill is long overdue and we thank Chairman (Bob) Corker, Ranking Member (Ben) Cardin and the committee for taking this significant step towards thwarting Palestinian terrorism. We also thank the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, for his passionate and steadfast leadership on this issue.”
In a letter sent to senators the day before the vote, Diament and Jerry Wolasky, the OU’s advocacy chairman, emphasized that “It is important for this committee to carefully craft this legislation so that American funding appropriately supports security cooperation with Israel and humanitarian programs. But it is also appropriate—and essential—for senators to underscore that the passage of the Taylor Force act need not result in a single dollar of American support being withheld; the legislation places the choice of whether or not that occurs where it belongs—with the Palestinian Authority. The PA must choose what is more important: fomenting and subsidizing terrorism or receiving financial aid to serve its citizens and build civil society.”
Sen. Booker responded in a statement from his Capitol Hill office, saying, “PA support for terrorist payments is plainly reprehensible and must be stopped. The path to accomplish this is highly complex, as evidenced by the Israeli government’s own reluctance to cut off sources of revenue to the PA despite their ability to do so without any help from the United States. There has been a failure to assure the Foreign Relations Committee that vital, stability-producing humanitarian programs would not end up facing cuts from this bill. I was deeply disappointed that yesterday’s committee vote was held despite there being so many important questions left unanswered about its impact on a volatile region, millions of civilians and America’s closest ally.
“There have long been mixed signals and conflicting recommendations coming from both the U.S. and Israeli national security officials about whether the bill would achieve its desired ends without worsening the security situation,” Booker continued. “As recently as the day before the vote there was confusion among State Department officials over provisions in the bill and exactly what impact they would have on Israel’s security and the stability of the region.”
Morton A. Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, was also disappointed in seeing Sen. Booker’s nay vote.
“Cory Booker has ignored that they are naming streets after terrorists,” said Klein to The Jewish Link. “He is ignoring the fact that they are paying people to murder Jews. If a country was looking askance if blacks were being killed, would Cory Booker approve that? Not only do black lives matter, but Israeli Jewish lives matter as well.”
Klein said that he believes Booker has become “hostile” toward Israel “even though he’s received the most amount of money from Jewish fundraisers. He’s stabbed his Jewish and Christian Zionist voters in the back.”
But the senator said there is still much to discuss when it comes to the Taylor Force Bill.
“With so many questions unanswered and the consequences so grave, I withheld my support for this version of the legislation yesterday. I’m continuing to seek answers to these questions and pursuing amendments that I offered to this legislation that will help prevent unintended humanitarian consequences and outcomes that would threaten Israel’s security. I hope these concerns are addressed quickly and well before the full Senate considers this legislation, so that this bill can receive my support.”
Those voting for the bill included:
Senators Graham, Joe Manchin (D-WV), Corker (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Risch (R-ID), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Todd Young (R-IN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cardin (D-MD), Tim Scott (R-SC), Menendez (D-NJ), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and David Perdue (R-GA).
By Phil Jacobs