Last month, the Palestinian Authority approved its budget for 2023. As expected, it includes hundreds of millions of dollars of funding for its notorious “pay-to-slay” program – paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons and to families of deceased terrorists.
Despite the fact that, thanks to the Taylor Force Act, the millions of dollars in aid the PA receives annually from the United States is supposed to be conditional on the termination of pay-to-slay, the Biden Administration resumed the flow of aid that was cut off during the Trump era. While President Joe Biden continues to proclaim support for Israel, the message that “pay-to-slay” is not an impediment to U.S. financial assistance for the PA is unmistakable.
Taylor Force was a non-Jewish American citizen, a U.S. Army veteran who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was murdered in Israel in 2016 by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel. Because the terrorist was killed while committing an act of violence against Israel, the killer’s relatives were paid a monthly pension equal to several times the average monthly Palestinian wage. An uproar ensued at this news in America, and in March 2018 the passage of the Taylor Force Act ended American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ceased paying these stipends.
In January 2021, Biden appointed Hady Amr as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, and tasked him with regularly running interference between Israel and the Palestinians. In November 2021, Amr was promoted to Special Representative for Palestinian Affairs with the goal, according to Secretary of State Tony Blinken, “to strengthen our engagement with the Palestinian people.”
What exactly has Amr been doing since November 2021 as the Biden Administration’s liaison to the Palestinians? According to a report by Palestinian Media Watch, Amr is in regular contact with Palestinian officials and regularly reports on his efforts to improve the lives of Palestinians, but there is little to no mention of efforts to get the PA to adhere to the conditions laid out in the Taylor Force Act. The law directs 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 immediately cease such payments.”
Even the State Department itself seems oblivious. In a summary about Amr’s recent schedule posted on Twitter last month, it reported that he spent six days in Jerusalem and the West Bank, “where he engaged w/government [sic], religious and civil society leaders to improve the lives of the Palestinian people. He also had moving visits to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al Aqsa mosque.”
A lot about meetings, but nothing about Taylor Force.
As time goes on, more and more Palestinians will come to contemplate mounting terrorist attacks against Israel, confident in the knowledge that if they are imprisoned or killed then they and/or their families will be taken care of. Six months into his new job, it is time for Special Representative Hady Amr to give an accounting as to what he has been doing to address this horrendous situation.