by: Kathy DeGagne, BFP Staff Writer
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been literally getting away with murder. And until now, Western nations have unknowingly been aiding and abetting that dangerous situation.
The PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, have long been perceived by Western audiences as partners in peace with Israel. But actions speak louder than words and legitimate partners in peace cannot actively condone and reward those who attack innocent civilians. The PA lauds Palestinian terrorists as “martyrs and heroes of the occupation” and lavishes generous financial rewards on them or their surviving families for service to the “resistance.” This policy is called “Pay-for-Slay.”
The United States (US) government is the PA’s principal aid donor. Since the formation of the PA in 1994, the US has contributed $5 billion into its coffers. What American taxpayers didn’t know until recently is that the Palestinian government is funneling millions of that aid money into a fund known as the PA Martyrs’ Fund—or more accurately “Pay-for-Slay”—to be paid out as lifetime monthly stipends to terrorists or their families for executing terrorist attacks. The fund was initially established 70 years ago to help poor Palestinian refugees, but has developed as a way to incite terror. The more horrendous the attack, the larger the payouts.
In 2017, more than $350 million in US aid was designated to the fund by the PA and more than 30,000 people were on the PA’s “Pay-for-Slay” payroll. Almost half the PA’s foreign aid budget of $775 million was spent on terror payments, according to Israeli research institute Palestinian Media Watch. The PA budget has even more money designated for terrorist payments this year.
The reward money can amount to two to four times the average monthly wage for an ordinary Palestinian worker. The temptation for Palestinian citizens to perform terrorist acts or raise their children as terrorists is thus a financial temptation few can resist. Indoctrination of children from kindergarten age and older has resulted in several generations of potential killers.
In March 2016, a rare attack against an American tourist named Taylor Force in Tel Aviv shocked the US. Taylor Force was a 28-year-old graduate student on tour with his fellow classmates. He was also a graduate of West Point Military Academy and served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Taylor was brutally stabbed to death in a random terrorist attack, which left his wife and ten others wounded, including a Russian tourist and an Israeli–Palestinian bystander. The attack took place on the beachfront promenade connecting Jaffa Port with Tel Aviv. The pictures of the slaying were graphic: large pools of blood on the cobblestones from wounds inflicted on innocent people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The news of Taylor’s murder was a horrific shock to his parents, yet it was made all the worse by news of the celebrations of his death taking place in the Palestinian territories and the generous compensation given to the perpetrator’s family. Taylor’s father described the “Pay-for-Slay” policy as “incomprehensible.”
Taylor’s parents, Stuart and Robbi Force, lobbied the US government on the issue and subsequent legislation introduced to Congress called on the government to cease funding to the PA if they did not stop rewarding acts of terror. Senator Lindsey Graham directed this statement to the PA in his presentation of the bill: “The bill is not a result of animosity toward the Palestinian people. It is a pushback against state-sponsored terrorism. You will never achieve peace when you pay one of your young men to kill someone like Taylor Force.”
In July 2018, the Congress and Senate passed the Taylor Force Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. The act would cut US financial aid from $500 million to $100 million, except for funding to Palestinian water and childhood vaccination programs, hospitals and security.
Abbas came out of his corner criticizing the act as an “aggression against the Palestinian people,” vowing that “arm-twisting and blackmailing” would not break their will. According to Palestinian Media Watch, the PA has refused to comply with the terms of the Taylor Force Act and “continues to glorify and honor terrorists.” Abbas has even threatened more terrorism if the US does not restore funding. His continued defiance signals little hope for peace.
Other Western nations are taking note of the Taylor Force Act and responding with similar legislation. In July this year, Australia decided to close funding to the PA via the World Bank and instead send it via the United Nations Humanitarian Fund for the Palestinian Territories in order to prevent the distribution of money to those “convicted of politically motivated violence.”
Also in July, the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) passed anti-“Pay-for-Slay” legislation that allows the amount paid to terrorists to be deducted from the taxes and tariffs collected by Israel for the PA. Israel can withhold forwarding that tax money to the PA if they believe the funds are being distributed to terrorists or their families.
Other Western governments agree that payment policies incentivize terror rather than moderate it, and waging war on the pocketbooks of terrorists is the most effective way to combat terrorism.
Stuart and Robbi Force can now be assured that their son did not die in vain. As the Knesset was about to enact the new law, Knesset member Elezar Stern said to Taylor’s father, “May this law be part of the commemoration of your late son, who is a hero of the Jewish people.”
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