In this week's Follow the Money: President Trump recently met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. One topic that may have come up is funding for terrorists and their families. Last year the Palestinian Authority allocated more than $300 million dollars for families of "martyrs," or those who commit terrorist acts. I recently spoke with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham about a plan to change that the Taylor Force Act.
Sen. Graham: The Taylor Force Act is named after a young man, Taylor Force, who was a West Point graduate, served a tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, got out of the Army, was in graduate school studying in Israel. Was at a dinner in Jaffa, Israel, walked outside, got stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist. The man who stabbed him was killed. The body was sent back to Ramallah in the West Bank, and he was basically given a state hero's funeral welcome. The family was paid a large cash sum of money by the Palestinian government because they killed Taylor Force. This act is named in his honor and it will cut off all Palestinian aid until they change their laws where they no longer pay their young people to kill Americans and Israelis.
Sharyl: How do we know the Palestinian Authority paid for that martyr's actions?
Sen. Graham: It's part of their law. They pay money to your family while you're in jail, your family gets free benefits, and when you get out, you get the pay of a military officer. If you die a martyr, like the guy who killed Taylor Force, then your family gets a lifetime payment.
Sharyl: Part of the codified system of payments to suicide bombers was revealed in a lawsuit in the last couple of years that's been going on. Families of suicide bombers received a $5,300 payment which is worth a lot more there than it is here. What do you make of the idea that they actually have a codified system that says here's how much you get for this act?
Sen. Graham: That's a great question. It's a sick society. When you pay your young people to commit terrorism acts they'll do it, and the family will make more. Your family will be better off if you go to jail in Israel as a terrorist than if you worked in Ramallah or the West Bank. That's a sick society, it's inconsistent with peace. How do you have a two-state solution when one of the partners, the Palestinian Authority, literally pays their young people to commit acts of terrorism?
Sharyl: How much aid do we give to the Palestinian Authority?
Sen. Graham: Between three and four hundred million.
Sharyl: Every year.
Sen. Graham: Every year and my beef is not with the Palestinian people. I think, in many ways, they're a victim of this, too. But the bottom line is, if you really want peace in the Mideast, you’ve got to stop this crap. The American taxpayer should not send money to a government that takes our money and other money to reward their kids for killing our kids and Israelis. Taylor Force was a victim of a corrupt, sick system. He was everything you would want an American young person to be. A military officer, a West Point graduate trying to better himself by studying in Israel. He’s not Jewish. He was killed by a terrorist and that terrorist’s family received a big benefit when the Palestinian govt and i don’t want our money to go into that system any longer until they change their laws.
Sharyl: Would it be enough for them to disavow the payment system or do they have to present a law that shows they no longer will pay that kind of money for those acts?
Sen. Graham: They have to change their law. They have literally a schedule; the longer you're in jail, the more you get paid, it's in a schedule in the Palestinian Authority law books. They have a martyr section. They've paid millions of dollars over the last 10 or 15 years to families like the man who killed Taylor Force; fairly large payments in terms of what a Palestinian makes. I'm not going to give them any more money until they change their laws.
The bill has its critics, including those afraid that cutting U.S. funds would destabilize the Palestinian leadership.