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What Is the U.S. Government Doing to Enforce the Taylor Force Act?

Maurice Hirsch, JCPA

It seems that the U.S. Department of State may have forgotten to push for the complete abolition of the Palestinian Authority’s terror-rewarding “Pay-for-Slay” policy.

It seems that the U.S. Department of State may have forgotten to push for the complete abolition of the Palestinian Authority’s terror-rewarding “Pay-for-Slay” policy. Ignoring these payments, estimated at over $350 million annually, encourages the PA’s malign behaviour, merely pushing peace further away. Instead, by refraining from a clear demand and ultimatum to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Department of State is ignoring U.S. law – the Taylor Force Act – and legitimizing the PA’s intolerable policy. As long as the PA continues to incentivize terror and reward the murder of Jews, there is no chance whatsoever to promote any constructive dialogue toward Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The bi-partisan U.S. Taylor Force Act, adopted in 2018, declared that “The Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.”

Following the declaration, TFA adopted two main thrusts. On the one hand, as a financial consequence, it conditioned that most of the U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority depends on the PA abolishing its “Pay-for-Slay” terror reward policy. On the other hand, as a long-term diplomatic goal, it urged “the Department of State to use its bilateral and multilateral engagements with all governments and organizations committed to the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians to highlight the issue of Palestinian Authority payments for acts of terrorism and to urge such governments and organizations to join the United States in calling on the Palestinian Authority to cease such payments immediately.”

While the PA’s position to dogmatically clutch its “Play-for-Slay” policy has seen it forfeit over $1 billion in potential U.S. aid in the last three years, very little has been done to achieve the diplomatic goal of ending the terror payments.

The Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs appointed by the Department of State, Hady Amr, has met with PA officials on many occasions. Never once has he issued a public statement demanding the abolition of “Play-for-Slay.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met on multiple occasions with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, including four meetings since the October 7 massacre.1 From the public statements, declarations and readout of those meetings, appears that the subject of the PA’s “Play-for-Slay” did not arise.

Hamas terrorists captured by Israel after the 10/7 attack (Israel Prison Service). Will they receive PA grants?

Since the most recent meeting, on February 7, it has become even more apparent that the PA not only intends to continue paying its terror rewards2 but will pay rewards to the terrorists who participated in the October 7 massacre and murdered, raped, tortured, beheaded, and burned alive over 1,200 people and took another 240 hostages.

Despite this reality, in the statement issued by the Department of State following the meeting,3 there was no mention of a demand that Abbas and the PA immediately and unconditionally abolish the policy. On the contrary, the statement merely said that Secretary Blinken “conveyed the United States’ commitment to increasing the delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza… reiterated the United States’ support for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state… discussed the benefits of revitalizing the Palestinian Authority…[and] reinforced the United States reject[ion of] any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.”

Abbas’ statement, on the other hand,4 made specific reference to the fact that Abbas urged “Washington to put more pressure on Israel to release the Palestinian clearance funds.”

According to the Oslo Accords and in return for the (constantly breached) Palestinian commitment to combat terror, Israel agreed to waive certain taxes, which it would continue to collect and transfer to the PA. The PA refers to these taxes as “clearance revenues.” In 2018, following the U.S. adoption of the Taylor Force Act, Israel also adopted legislation that punishes the PA for its “Play-for-Slay” policy by deducting the sum the PA pays to terrorists for acts of terror from the tax revenue. To date, the PA has lost over 3 billion shekels (approximately $820 million), a sum equivalent to the PA payments to terrorists from 2018 through 2022. So when Abbas urges Washington to release the “Palestinian clearance funds,” he is referring to the sums withheld by Israel from the taxes as a direct result of the PA’s “Play-for-Slay” policy.

In other words, as Abbas and the PA continue to pay rewards to terrorist murderers, they expect the U.S. Secretary of State to breach U.S. law, actively undermine Israeli law, and provide them with even more funds. Those funds will not be used for the benefit of the Palestinian people. Instead, they will be used to pay the additional expenses the PA has taken upon itself to reward the terrorists who carried out the October 7 massacre.

In this extraordinary situation, moral clarity requires that Secretary Blinken unequivocally demand an immediate end to the PA’s “Play-for-Slay” policy as a non-negotiable precondition to establishing any form of revitalized Palestinian entity, both in its current or potentially sovereign version. Regretfully the PA’s current foundations are entrenched and institutionalized in the multi-billion-dollar policy to reward terror and encourage terrorists to slaughter Jews.




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