The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has continued to pay out salaries to convicted terrorists using funds provided by American taxpayers.
The payouts are a direct violation of the 2016 Taylor Force Act, or TFA, which states that the PA must cease its payments to martyrs and their families or risk having U.S. aid cut off.
The PA’s 2018 budget allocated nearly 8 percent of its operational budget for the fund, according to Palestinian Media Watch, an organization that tracks governments in the region. The $355 million set aside for Palestinian martyrs makes up about 44 percent of the total foreign aid dollars budgeted to the PA.
Palestinian officials have stated outright that they have no intention of ending their so-called Palestinian Authority Martyrs Fund, which is a government fund that pays monthly cash stipends to the families of Palestinians who have been injured or killed committing terror attacks or other politically-fueled violence.
On the contrary, while officials have for some time attempted to hide these payments from the likes of the U.S. government, PA President Mahmoud Abbas outright admitted they will continue to defy U.S. laws.
“There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop — the salaries of the martyrs and the martyrs’ families,” Abbas said in January, according to the Free Beacon. “Of course we categorically reject this. We will not under any circumstances allow anyone to harm the families of the prisoners, the wounded and the martyrs. They are our children and they are our families. They honor us, and we will continue to pay them before the living.”
A PA government spokesman had similar words just days after the U.S. passed the TFA last August.
“In the eyes of our people, our nation and our cause, the martyrs and prisoners are sacred symbols of freedom, struggle, protecting human dignity, and resistance to submission and humiliation,” the spokesman was quoted as saying, according to the PMW. “All of these titles are noble titles, and an anchored right of all humans, which cannot be bought or sold for any fortune in the world.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn, who spearheaded the Taylor Force Act, told the Free Beacon:
“The Taylor Force Act makes the United States’ stance clear: We will not fund state-sponsored terrorism with American taxpayer dollars. No more will innocent Americans die at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. There is certainly more work to be done in terms of protecting Americans abroad and working with our ally, Israel. I will continue to see this through.”
The TFA requires that the U.S. State Department certify to Congress within one month that the PA has ceased these types of payouts to terrorists and their families. If the State Department cannot do so, the U.S. must withhold a large portion of its yearly aid to Palestine. With Palestinian officials standing their ground on the issue and continuing to make payments, the U.S. will likely consider its options now in responding to the PA’s violations.