On July 14, three Arab citizens of Israel entered Jerusalem’s Temple Mount armed to attack. They shot and killed two Israeli police officers — Hayil Satawi, 30, and Kamil Dhanaan, 22, members of the Israeli Druze community. The terrorists were shot and killed. Their families will receive monthly reward checks from the Palestinian Authority for the rest of their lives.
A week later, on July 21, a 19-year-old Palestinian terrorist walked into a Jewish home during a Shabbat meal and stabbed three Israelis to death: Yosef Salomon, 70, and two of his children; Chaya Salomon, 46, and Elad Salomon, 36. The Palestinian Authority will send a monthly check to this terrorist who will sit in prison for the rest of his life — as compensation this heinous attack.
In March of last year, a 28-year-old American student named Taylor Force was visiting Israel on a school trip. While walking near the beach in Tel Aviv, a 22-year-old Palestinian stabbed him to death in a terror attack. Taylor Force was an Eagle Scout, West Point graduate, and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He represents everything any parent could want their son or daughter to be.
Shortly after his son’s murder, Stuart Force said, “All dads and all moms are proud of their kids. Taylor basically did everything right, but he was humble about it.” Mr. and Mrs. Force lost their treasured son in this terror attack. They were left with only photographs and memories. The terrorist who murdered Taylor was killed shortly after by police — but his family was left with something else, a lucrative financial reward.
The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, gives financial rewards for terror attacks. The more people killed in an attack, the higher the financial reward. Families of terrorists receive a pension for life which is triple the average salary in the West Bank, free tuition and health insurance, a clothing allowance, and a monthly stipend.
In 2016, the PA paid $135 million to terrorists jailed in Israel, and $183 million to families of terrorists. That adds up to more than $300 million to reward and incentivize acts of murder — in one year alone.
This issue has brought us — members of the United States and Israeli legislatures — together, since Palestinian terror impacts both of our countries. It matters to Israel because the Palestinian funding invites constant attacks against Israelis. It matters to the United States not just because innocent Americans and Israelis are being murdered, but also because in the last 25 years the United States has sent more than $5 billion in foreign aid to the Palestinians. This aid is meant to foster stability and promote peace in the region. Yet the Palestinian Authority is using our aid for the exact opposite purpose.
The two of us have decided to take action.
In the U.S., we are holding the Palestinian Authority accountable through the Taylor Force Act. This legislation would withhold economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until the PA stops its payments for acts of terrorism, including rewards to family members of terrorists.
In the Israeli Knesset, a law has already passed the first stage of the legislative process that would impose a dollar-for-dollar deduction in the amount of tax revenues Israel transfers to the Palestinian Authority based on the amount the PA pays terrorists. Israel collects these funds in accordance with previous agreements, yet these agreements also commit the Palestinian Authority to fight against — not glorify — terror. That money to the PA can be transferred as soon as the Palestinian Authority stops supporting terror. Human life, on the other hand, can never be returned.
Some will argue that money is not fungible; that we know exactly where our foreign aid is going; that our money is promoting peace and humanitarianism. But the reality is that, despite our good intentions, when the U.S. pays for governance, utilities, and social welfare programs, it is freeing up P.A. money to pay for terrorist stipends, such as the stipend going to the relatives of Taylor Force’s murderer.
Others argue that these American and Israeli bills could destabilize the West Bank — but prominent Israeli national security figures reject this prediction, and the fact remains that the status quo itself is unstable. Funding that enables the Palestinian Authority to reward violence and killing is not a recipe for calmness, whereas removing an incentive to carry out acts of terror will be an important step toward peace and stability. But above all, the reason why both countries must pass these bills into law, is that our most basic moral value is the sanctity of human life. It is simply unacceptable to allow our money to promote murder.
While these bills bring us together as legislators in Israel and the United States, the entire free world should rally to support their passage. All civilized countries should seek moral and political clarity to stop the use of aid money going to compensate acts of terror. Through legislation in the U.S. and Israel, we can turn words into action. We urge the rest of the world to join us as we seek to put an end to this horrific practice and bring a measure of peace to a region that desperately needs it.
• Doug Lamborn is a Republican U.S. representative from Colorado. Elazar Stern is a retired major general of the Israel Defense Forces and a member of the Knesset.