Royce: Taylor Force Act to advance House committee in ‘few weeks’

WASHINGTON – Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-CA) announced on Monday that legislation to cut off U.S. economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority, if the P.A. declines to end payments to families of terrorists, will advance through his committee in the coming weeks. Speaking at a Hudson Institute conference focused on combating Iranian and Qatari terror, Royce vowed, “My Democratic counterpart Eliot Engel (D-NY) and I have put together a bipartisan House version of the Taylor Force Act, which we will be marking up in a few weeks.” While the Senate version of the legislation passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August, the House bill had been stalled in committee until now.

The Taylor Force Act is named after an American veteran who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist last year in Tel Aviv.. Taylor’s father — Stuart Force — also addressed the Hudson Conference and lambasted the ongoing U.S. support for the P.A. “The fact that our tax dollars are being diverted to support terrorism is unacceptable,” he added.

Slamming Qatar for hosting Hamas leaders, Royce credited a May bill, which targeted any government that backs Hamas financially, for Doha’s changed behavior. “After Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), myself and several other members including Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) introduced legislation increasing sanctions against those who provide support for Hamas, Qatar expelled those senior Hamas financiers.” Nonetheless, Royce expressed skepticism regarding Qatar’s commitment to genuine reform. “Given Qatar’s history of false reform and broken promises, I am concerned that this is a tactical move and not a strategic shift away from supporting Hamas,” he said.

Offering an alternative voice, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-CA) emphasized the urgent need for establishing Palestinian statehood. Declining to back the Taylor Force Act, Johnson noted, “Before we can have peace in the Middle East, it’s my opinion, that we are going to have to resolve in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It will have to result in a two state solution: one state for the Palestinians and another for Israel.”

Concluding the panel, Royce stressed the rationale for his support of the Taylor Force Act. Palestinians “are being lured there by the concept of pay to slay, by this inducement, by this financial reward that says the longer the sentence, the more people that are murdered, the greater the stipend.”

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