WASHINGTON - The Taylor Force Act, legislation that cuts American funding for the Palestinian Authority over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families, officially became a law on Friday evening, after President Donald Trump signed a large budget bill that the act was a part of. The PA protested the passage of the legislation, which is named after Taylor Force, an American citizen murdered in a terror attack in Tel Aviv two years ago.
The bill was first introduced by Republican lawmakers in March of last year. Over the last 12 months, it has gone through a modification process that produced wide bipartisan support for it. The final version that became part of the wider budget bill includes a number of exceptions for projects that will continue to receive American funding, such as hospitals in East Jerusalem, wastewater programs and child vaccination initiatives.
It should be noted that the legislation will not affect the budget that the United States provides to the Palestinian Authority’s security and intelligence forces, which is separate from funding that goes toward dealing with civilian issues within the PA. That money will continue to be provided, at least for the time being. The PA security forces work in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces to thwart terror attacks in the West Bank, and cooperate with American, Jordanian and Egyptian intelligence agencies.
The passage of the Taylor Force Act isn’t likely to create an economic crisis in the PA, which receives funding from many other sources besides the United States, but it likely won’t help the Trump administration’s attempts to bring the Palestinians back to participating in the American-led peace process. The Palestinian leadership accuses the current administration of completely adopting Israel’s position in the negotiations and not playing the role of a fair and honest broker. The Palestinians have not had any official contacts with the administration’s peace process team since December, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he was taking the issue “off the table.”
The White House had backed the funding cuts legislation all along, and congratulated Congress on Thursday for including it in the budget deal. In a statement it said that it “commends the Congress for including the Taylor Force Act, which prohibits most U.S. foreign assistance that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority (PA) until the PA ends the abhorrent practice of providing payments to terrorists and their families in reward for acts of violence.”
The final passage of the act was cheered by Jewish groups that had supported it, including the Orthodox Union and the Republican Jewish Coalition. Democratic New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said that “passage of the Taylor Force Act will serve as a shot across the bow to President Abbas, as he must be held accountable for the Palestinian Authority’s record of incitement and subsidizing of terror. It is my hope that by enacting this bill we can put an end to the Palestinian Authority’s disturbing practice all while honoring the memory and sacrifice of Taylor Force.”