Enough 'ultimate deal' talk Mr. President: Demand Sen. Corker support Taylor Force Act
As published in the The Hill
At their May 3 Washington joint press conference, in a performance that would have impressed Richard Gere’s shyster Billy Flynn in the movie, Chicago, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas gave President Trump the old “razzle dazzle” that has worked so well in the past — about his commitment to peace with the Israelis.
Realizing that he had been played, President Trump, at their May 23 meeting in Bethlehem, refused to listen to more “flim-flam” and shouted at Abbas, “You tricked me in D.C.! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement.” He warned Abbas,“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded” and demanded that the PA curb anti-Israeli incitement and cease paying terrorists for murdering Israeli civilians. When Abbas prevaricated that stipends are paid by the Palestine Liberation Organization, not the Palestinian government, Trump responded, ‘You can talk about how much you want peace, but that’s empty [rhetoric].'”
Trump’s angry outburst was followed by several minutes of stunned silence from the Palestinians. Of course Abbas was stunned. He isn’t used to a Western leader calling him out for his perfidy.
At the very time that Abbas was at the White House spouting his propaganda about his desire for peace with the Israelis, his Fatah organization honored 12 Palestinian terrorists responsible for murdering 95 Israeli civilians.
And his government continues to pay blood money for killing Israeli citizens.
Starting in 2015, with public statements like, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem… blood on its way to Allah,” Abbas and his PA promote what has been dubbed the “knifing intifada” against Israeli civilians consisting of knife and car-ramming attacks, just like the attacks recently carried out on London Bridge and in Borough Market. Palestinian terrorists have perpetrated in excess of 177 stabbings, 144 shootings and 58 vehicular attacks against Israelis, killing 49 people and injuring more than 700.
In March 2016, Palestinian terrorist Bashar Masalha stabbed to death American student Taylor Force, a 28-year-old West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran, and wounded 11 other civilians before being killed by Israeli police. PA TV glorified the murderer as “the Martyr,” “Shahid,” the highest religious achievement that can be attained by a Muslim — and Abbas’ Fatah organization posted a Facebook sketch of a man’s hand holding a knife over a map of “Palestine” on which Masalha’s name was written. According to PA law, Masalha’s family would have received a one-time payment of about $1,560 and a monthly stipend of about $364 from the Palestinian government’s “martyr fund,” a significant sum for Palestinians.
This Palestinian pay-for-slay program amounted to 7 percent of their 2016 budget and 30 percent of their annual foreign aid —$1.12 billion over the past four years — one-third of which comes from U.S. taxpayers.
You read that right. The American taxpayer is complicit in the murder of Taylor Force.
The Taylor Force legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) in 2016 prohibits U.S. aid to the West Bank and Gaza, unless the State Department certifies that the PA is “taking steps to end acts of violence against Israeli citizens” and “has terminated payments for acts of terrorism.”
If passed, this legislation would stop American taxpayer funding of terror and incentivize the Palestinians to stop inciting and rewarding terrorism. It would force Abbas to start to live up to his “razzle dazzle” about working for peace with the Israelis. But the legislation is stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) saying, “I think there is probably a more targeted way of dealing with that issue.” He’s worried that the absence of U.S. funds could weaken Abbas’s government and strengthen Hamas. That risk is worth taking.
President Trump pounded the table in Bethlehem and demanded that Abbas stop rewarding terrorism. This important message falls on deaf ears. Abbas will never act. Although he wouldn’t dare say this to Trump, Palestinians view peace with Israel as a defeat of their 100-year struggle to cleanse the Jews from the Middle East. That’s why the Arabs have rejected multiple generous peace offers over the past 70 years. They refuse to share the land with the Jews. In recent polling, 62 percent of Palestinians supported the goal of “resistance” in order to establish a Jew-free state “from the river to the sea,” including all of Israel.
Mr. President, if you want to have a chance to successfully broker “the ultimate deal,” as you call it, between Palestinians and Israelis and underpin your campaign against radical Islamic terrorism, back up your angry words in Bethlehem with concrete action. Coerce Abbas into beginning the hard work of creating the broad and profound changes in Palestinian society, political goals and governance that are the essential preconditions for peace. Stop terror. Pass the Taylor Force Act as a first step in that effort.