Vern Buchanan: Stop rewarding Palestinians for terrorism

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan today urged Congress to pass legislation that will cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority for its despicable practice of rewarding terrorism.

The Palestinian Authority currently pays hundreds of millions of dollars a year to jailed terrorists and the families of so-called ‘martyrs’ who die committing acts of terror in Israel. Buchanan is a co-sponsor of the Taylor Force Act, legislation that withholds economic assistance to the Palestinians unless the Secretary of State certifies that the PA has terminated the payments to terrorists.

“American tax dollars should never be used to reward terrorism,” Buchanan said. “The Palestinian Authority must not receive another dime until they end this horrific practice.”

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will consider the Taylor Force Act in a hearing this morning that will include Daniel Shapiro, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Elliott Abrams, former deputy national security advisor to President George W. Bush, as witnesses.

The bill is named after U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, who was brutally stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel on a Vanderbilt University trip. According to the Wall Street Journal, Force’s murderer, Bashar Masalha, was killed by police but his relatives “now receive monthly payments equal to several times the average Palestinian wage.”

Last year the Palestinian Authority paid out $315 million – accounting for nearly 8 percent of the PA’s entire budget – in payments to prisoners and relatives of terrorists, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under Palestinian law, terrorists convicted of attacks are eligible for monthly “salaries” after their arrest, as well as cash grants and priority civil-service job placements upon their release, as reported by the Washington Post. Even more disturbing, the deadlier the attack or longer the prison sentence, the more money their families receive.

The U.S. sends nearly $400 million in annual assistance per year to Palestinian territories according to the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. Since the mid-1990s the Palestinian Authority has received over $5 billion in foreign assistance from the United States alone.

Buchanan noted that he was encouraged that President Trump raised the issue of terrorism-related payments to President Mahmoud Abbas when the Palestinian Authority leader visited the White House in May.

However, Abbas said days ago that he would rather lose his presidency than stop the program that pays terrorists. “Even if I will have to leave my position,” Abbas said, “I will not compromise on the salary of a martyr or a prisoner.”