J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams issued the following statement today on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ consideration of the Taylor Force Act (S.1697):
J Street strongly opposes and condemns the Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying stipends – under the umbrella of a larger welfare program – to those imprisoned or killed in connection with acts of terrorism against Israelis, or to their families. We support the enforcement of current US law, which requires a one-to-one reduction in US assistance for every dollar paid by the PA to those or the families of those who committed such acts of terrorism.
We also share the view of hundreds of Israel’s top former security officials and pro-Israel former US officials that the Taylor Force Act as originally introduced (S.474) would have undermined the safety and security of Israelis in direct opposition to the bill’s stated objective. By zeroing out US assistance directly benefiting the Palestinian people through humanitarian assistance, essential infrastructure and good governance projects, the bill would have only increased deprivation and despair among the most vulnerable in Palestinian society, fomenting further extremism. The vacuum created by such shortfalls in meeting Palestinians’ basic needs could be quickly and gladly filled by Hamas or other violent anti-Israel actors.
We are therefore glad to see that the newly introduced version of the legislation passed by the committee today (S.1697) addresses some of our key concerns by appearing to allow funding for essential USAID projects at the local level and humanitarian assistance provided through US NGOs to continue. However, the bill’s language is vague in places, making it unclear as to whether this vital assistance would continue depending on how narrowly the language is interpreted by the current US administration or by future administrations. We are disappointed that an amendment offered to remedy this uncertainty was rejected by a party-line vote.
Accordingly, J Street will continue to work with lawmakers in both chambers toward a final bill that enhances rather than further imperils the safety and security of Israelis.