Trump Administration’s Mixed Signals on Taylor Force Act

WASHINGTON – The White House agrees with the “high-level goals” of Congressional legislation aimed to stop the Palestinian Authority’s payments to families of terrorists’, an administration official told Jewish Insider on Wednesday. “While the Administration agrees with the high-level goals of the Taylor Force Act, it is currently in Congress’s hands and we will continue to closely monitor the specifics of the legislation, the administration official said.

White House senior advisor Jason Greenblatt met with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) on Tuesday where they discussed the legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that would dramatically cut U.S. aid to the PA if payments to the families of Palestinian terrorists do not end. Greenblatt went to Capitol Hill ” to hear about the Taylor Force Act not to share the WH opinion about it,” a White House official told Jewish Insider on Tuesday.

Last week, 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 during a hearing at the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

“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 State Department official also added that the administration “shares Congress’ commitment to end programs that incentivize acts of terrorism.”

The Palestinian Media Watch notes how in 2017, the Palestinian Authority “increased spending by 13 percent for salaries to terrorist prisoners and 4 percent for payments to families of terrorist ‘martyrs.’”

During a recent hearing on the Taylor Force Act at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Trump administration declined to send a representative to present its view about the legislation.

Thousands of pro-Israel supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. this week to forcefully lobby lawmakers to support the Taylor Force Act. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer emphasized Israel’s support of the legislation. “I can assure that Israel is not the slightest bit concerned that the Taylor Force will pass,” Dermer said during a speech at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) annual summit on Monday. “Israel would be concerned if the Taylor Force Act didn’t pass.”

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) previously announced that he intends to pass a “Taylor Force like Act” by the August recess. “We face a fairly basic question. Should U.S. taxpayer dollars support a government that incentivizes terrorism? I believe the answer is ‘no,” he noted.

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