Israel Fully Supports Taylor Force Act, Regardless of Consequences, U.S. Envoy Dermer Says

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File photo: Demonstrators gather in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Ramallah April 17, 2017.
File photo: Demonstrators gather in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, Ramallah April 17, 2017. Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS

Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said on Monday night that the Israeli government fully supports the "Taylor Force Act," a legislation calling to freeze all U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues to pay salaries to convicted terrorists and their families.

Speaking before the annual gathering of "Christians United for Israel," an Evangelical right-wing organization, Dermer stated that "Israel is not the slightest bit concerned" about the possible implications of the bill, which many experts have warned could cause instability in the West Bank and hurt Israel's successful security coordination with the Palestinian Authority.

Dermer told the Christian right-wing crowd that "Israel will be concerned if the Taylor Force Act doesn't pass." In the past, on a number of occasions in which Congress debated whether to cut funding for the PA, it was the Israeli security establishment which warned about the damage such a decision could cause to security coordination and stability in Palestinian territory. Dermer, a political appointment by Prime Minister Netanyahu, took a strong stand in support of the legislation, and urged Congress to pass it soon.

In a hearing on the bill held last week, two former senior US officials who served under Democratic and Republican administrations expressed support for the bill - but also called on the US Senate to amend it, in order to make sure that the funding cuts don't cause harm to Palestinian civilian institutions and humanitarian projects, as well as to security coordination with Israel. Elliott Abrams, who served as a senior Middle East adviser to President George W. Bush, said that the legislation should make a clear distinction between funds which benefit the Palestinian people and funds that go into the PA's bank accounts. Dan Shapiro, who was ambassador to Israel under President Barack Obama, offered to divest some of the money intended to the PA into civilian projects in the high-tech sector and in co-existence education. 

Sources in both parties on Capitol Hill told Haaretz after the hearing last week that it was very likely that a softened and revised version of the "Taylor Force Act" will pass the Senate within the coming weeks. The two parties will probably find a compromise along the lines of what Abrams and Shapiro proposed during the hearing. The bill is named after Taylor Force, an American citizen who was murdered in a terror attack in Israel in March 2016. 

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