A federal law known as the Taylor Force Act, named for a non-Jewish American student murdered in Israel by a Palestinian assailant, prohibits the United States from granting economic aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless and until the PA ends the practice of making so called “martyr payments” – that is, paying stipends to individuals or their families for attacking U.S. and Israeli citizens. The Taylor Force Act allows for three specific exceptions: if the money goes toward vaccinating children, wastewater projects, or to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.
The law was enacted in 2018 with the support of President Donald Trump, and U.S. aid to the Palestinians ended accordingly.
Notwithstanding the fact that the PA’s “slay for pay” system is still operating, President Joe Biden restored financial aid to the PA almost immediately after taking office. Over a billion dollars in grants have been made for purposes including economic assistance, food assistance, security, and people-to-people engagement between Palestinians and Israelis.
Without referring to its language, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has simply asserted that these grants are consistent with Taylor Force, even though they are not among the listed exceptions, because “U.S. foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values. It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability.”
Led by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, several members of the Senate and House of Representatives have seized upon the fact that Palestinian banks and other Middle Eastern banks continue to process the martyr payments, sometimes involving U.S. dollar transactions. Even though these banks are in violation of U.S. financial regulations, they cannot be sanctioned because they don’t have a presence in the country – but what they do often have is a “correspondent account” relationship with U.S. banks with whom they regularly transact business.
Sen. Cotton and his colleagues have introduced the Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act, which will prohibit banks that process martyr payments from dealing with American banks.
We will be watching the progress of this legislation and share the new developments with our readers.