August 03, 2017

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Urges Ambassador Haley to Lead UN Campaign Against Palestinian Terror Payments

WASHINGTON – In a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking member and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today urged the U.S. to wage an international campaign against the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) compensation of terrorists imprisoned in Israel. Cosigners of the letter include Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

Today, the committee passed the Taylor Force Act that demands the PA end its policy of incentivizing terrorism. The bill is named for a Vanderbilt University graduate student who was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv last year.

“For years, Congress has raised alarm regarding the Palestinian Authority's (PA) practice of paying Palestinian prisoners serving sentences for terrorism in Israeli prisons, as well as the families of deceased terrorists,” the senator wrote in the letter. “We now urge you to use your position as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to raise the problem of PA payments for acts of terrorism at the UN Security Council. We also request that you urge other U.N. member nations on the Council, in the General Assembly, and across UN agencies to join the U.S. in calling on the PA to end this system immediately. We are hopeful that your efforts to use diplomatic leverage on the international stage will complement action in Congress.”

Complete text of the letter is included below and available online here.

Dear Ambassador Haley:

For years, Congress has raised alarm regarding the Palestinian Authority's (PA) practice of paying Palestinian prisoners serving sentences for terrorism in Israeli prisons, as well as the families of deceased terrorists. The core problem is that these payments, codified in Palestinian law, only go to prisoners and increase based on the length of a prisoner’s sentence, thus incentivizing and rewarding greater acts of terrorism. 

A clear demonstration of congressional concern was the decision, starting with fiscal year 2015 appropriations, to reduce the amount of U.S. economic assistance to the West Bank and Gaza by the amount expended by the PA as payment for acts of terrorism.  This year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is taking up the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off economic support funds that directly benefit the PA until the Secretary of State can certify that the system of paying terrorists has ended.

We welcome your statement on June 28 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding “the need to have a strong conversation with [the PA] on how these martyr payments have to stop…and let them know that that's not something we are going to accept or do going forward.”

We now urge you to use your position as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to raise the problem of PA payments for acts of terrorism at the UN Security Council.  We also request that you urge other U.N. member nations on the Council, in the General Assembly, and across UN agencies to join the U.S. in calling on the PA to end this system immediately.

We are hopeful that your efforts to use diplomatic leverage on the international stage will complement action in Congress. 

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