State Dept Questions if Taylor Force Act ‘Accomplishes’ Objective of Stopping Terror

Top State Department official notes Palestinian progress in cutting terror payments

WASHINGTON – A top State Department official expressed skepticism regarding the efficiency of the Taylor Force Act in combating Palestinian terrorism. “It is not clear that the Taylor Force Act as currently drafted would help accomplish these objectives,” Stuart Jones, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, said on Thursday.

The Taylor Force Act, introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), would sever all U.S. economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until payments to Palestinian families of terrorists’ end. Jones spoke before an open hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

Jones responded to a question by Representative Ted Deutch (D-FL) who asked for the administration’s position on the bill, which has gained bipartisan momentum in recent weeks. On Wednesday, during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Taylor Force Act, ranking member Ben Cardin (D-MD) expressed frustration that no administration official was present to offer its views on the bill.

“For the first time in 52 years in the Palestinian prisoner payment program, the Palestinians have already cut funding to 277 Hamas affiliated former prisoners,” Jones added calling the recent Palestinian decision a “step forward.”

The Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Bob Corker (R-TN), announced last month that a “Taylor Force like Act” will be passed out of the committee by the August recess. While amendments have been proposed to the Taylor Force Act such as adding a National Security waiver or maintaining some of the humanitarian assistance, Jones added, “the administration is not going to take a position on those proposals.”

At the same time, Jones emphasized, “Of course the administration shares Congress’ commitment to end programs that incentivize acts of terrorism. President Trump has discussed this issue directly with President Abbas emphasizing the need to make significant progress on this issue.”

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