JERUSALEM, Israel – Congress recently passed the Taylor Force Act, named after a US citizen who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel. The law prevents US aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues the practice of paying convicted terrorists and their families, a policy sometimes known as "pay to slay."
When the Taylor Force Act became law, Congress expected the PA to get the message.
CBN News spoke by phone to Congressman Doug Lamborn, who introduced the legislation in the House of Representatives.
"It sends a strong signal that we're not going to stand by when they take taxpayer dollars and turn around and give it to terrorists who have murdered innocent people," Lamborn said.
Yet PA President Mahmoud Abbas ignored any signs, blatantly refusing to honor the new law even though it could mean millions in lost aid.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
"There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop – the salaries of the martyrs and the martyrs' families. 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," Abbas announced.
"The Palestinians are taking a hard line and they are defying the US, we should stop every penny that goes to them until they change their policy," Lamborn said.
Rewarding terrorists and their families has been built into the fabric of Palestinian society, as well as its budget, for decades. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, this year is no different.
For 2018, the Palestinian Authority still allocated about $360 million or 7 percent of its budget for this practice. The PA has budgeted this amount of money for six years.
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In the past, it disguised the sources of those payments, but now the funds are openly included in the 2018 budget, a move some interpret as clear defiance.
"The passing of the Taylor Force Act by Congress and the enactment and the signing by the president is a very, very important message to the Palestinian Authority that when you reward terror, you can no longer receive American aid," Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) told CBN News.
PMW first reported on the Palestinian Authority's payment to terrorists in 2011.
PMW Founder and Director Itamar Marcus
"The great tragedy of, I would say of the past 20 years, is that the Palestinian Authority acted like a terror organization, they sent terrorists to kill Israelis, they rewarded them," Marcus said.
Lamborn hopes other nations will adopt the US policy.
"We would strongly hope that other countries follow our lead, just as we hope that they follow our lead in other areas like moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem," Lamborn said.
"It should have been done years ago and I'm hoping that Europe will follow," he continued. "If the international community, united, says to the Palestinian Authority 'if you act like a terrorist, you're not going to get our money, you'll be treated like a terrorist.' I think that could have a very long-term effect on changing the way the Palestinian Authority behaves."