WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate came one step closer this week to passing legislation that defunds the Palestinian Authority until they stop "martyr" payments.
The bill is a response to the brutal murder of American business school student and combat veteran Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death in March 2016 while on a school trip to Israel.
The 21-year-old Palestinian man who killed him was then praised and financially rewarded by a government largely funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars.
"That's sick. No society should reward their children for being terrorists," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Graham hopes to pressure the Palestinian Authority to stop their "pay to slay" policy by proposing a bill that would cut the almost $400 million in U.S. funding to the group.
"We have a duty to defend our citizens and not empower people who will kill them," the South Carolina lawmaker told CBN News.
Graham thinks there is no hope for a two-state solution in the Middle East if the Palestinian Authority continues to reward people for being terrorists.
According to The Jerusalem Post, the PA argues the bonuses only benefit legitimate combatants, but the Israeli and U.S. governments say this is immoral.
"(Mahmoud) Abbas said the following, the president of the Palestinian Authority, 'I will leave office before I stop martyr payments and before I stop paying money to prisoners,'" Graham quoted the PA leader. "How do you achieve peace with a government who would actually take money and pay their children to kill other people's children?"
The Senate committee reviewing the bill mostly agrees this needs to end but worry about unintended consequences to Israel's security if all funding is cut off.
Many want to see changes added to ensure humanitarian aid is not affected and that this would not lead to the collapse of the PA.