Members of Congress hope to compel the State Department to disclose the amount of U.S. aid money the Palestinian Authority has given to convicted terrorists and their families, according to a congressional communication viewed by the Free Beacon that calls for a complete freeze in U.S. aid to the Palestinian government.
Reps. David McKinley (R., W.V.) and John Ratcliffe (R., Texas) are circulating a letter to Republican offices urging them to join an effort to compel the State Department to detail the amount of taxpayer money that has been used by the Palestinian government to pay terrorists under a longstanding policy known as "pay to slay."
Following passage of the Taylor Force Act, which requires the Palestinian government to stop these payments or face a full cutoff in aid, the lawmakers are seeking to immediately freeze U.S. aid to the Palestinians until the State Department explains to lawmakers how it plans to enforce the new law.
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The letter follows a recent Free Beacon report disclosing that the Palestinian Authority continues to spend U.S. aid dollars on terrorists. Palestinian officials have also made clear that they have no intention of following the new law and will continue to provide terrorists and their familiar with compensation.
"We urge you to immediately suspend all aid payments to the Palestinian Authority," the lawmakers write, according to a copy of the letter viewed by the Free Beacon. "Further, we urge you to make the cessation of this abhorrent practice that incentivizes terrorism a pre-condition for any U.S.-brokered peace talks between the sovereign state of Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
The lawmakers also demand the State Department outline in detail, "how many foreign aid dollars went to the PA that were then used to fund terrorists prior to passage of the Taylor Force Act?"
Lawmakers are additionally requesting information on what measures the administration is "planning to take to enforce the law and suspend aid to the PA, given the above statements and the content of their proposed budget?" according to the letter, which is addressed to secretary of state nominee Mike Pompeo.
The State Department is required to report to Congress this week on its implementation of the Taylor Force Act and explain what efforts it is taking to stop Palestinian payments to terrorists.
Asked about the state of play on Wednesday, a State Department official declined to provide information on the reporting requirement and further information showing the Palestinian government continues to provide salaries to terrorists.
Organizations tracking the Palestinian media recently disclosed that the PA is slated to spend at least eight percent of its 2018 budget on its so-called martyr's fund. That figure amounts to about $355 million, according to Palestinian Media Watch.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in a recent speech, outlined his intention to continue paying terrorists, a point highlighted by the lawmakers in their letter to Pompeo.
"There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop—the salaries of the martyrs and the martyrs' families," Abbas was quoted as saying. "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."
The lawmakers go on to request the Trump administration require the Palestinians to abandon this practice as a pre-condition for peace talks with Israel.
Other members of Congress are lining up behind the effort as well.
"Congress took a bipartisan and resolute stance in the budget deal last month: We will not continue to provide aid to the Palestinian Authority if they use those funds to pay terrorists and their families. These evil individuals seek to harm the United States and our ally Israel," said McKinley. "We call on the State Department to cease aid payments to the Palestinian Authority until it can be confirmed that they have complied with this requirement."