On Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist murdered two Israeli civilians and shot a third in the abdomen. While Israeli police are trying to track down the perpetrator, Palestinian officials have reportedly begun arrangements to reward him and his family financially for his efforts. The Taylor Force Act, passed by Congress earlier this year, withholds funding from the Palestinian Authority (PA) until such payments to terrorists and their families cease. Although the Trump administration has bolstered the law by closing the PLO office in Washington and further cutting funding for Palestinians, it has not abided by all of the law’s provisions, or made appropriate efforts to defend it publicly, as Sander Gerber and Thomas Trask write:
[According to critics of the Taylor Force Act and White House policies], cutting aid is rash and undeserved, will reduce U.S. leverage, and will empower Palestinians who say the PA shouldn’t even pretend to seek peace with Israel.
These critics are wrong, but currently their arguments are largely unopposed. The administration has yet to make a serious case for why its aid cuts don’t undermine peace but encourage it. This explanation is the missing piece of the administration’s admirable steps to impose consequences on the Palestinian Authority’s support for violence. [Its absence] allows critics to portray cuts as merely a product of personal animosity or the influence of pro-Israel advisers, rather than sound strategic thinking. Having been successfully portrayed as an aberration, no-strings U.S. aid can be quickly restored by the next administration.
Feeding this problem is the State Department’s reluctance to comply with the Taylor Force Act. That bill became law six months ago, and by now Foggy Bottom should have sent several unclassified reports to Congress detailing the pay-for-slay program, PA laws supporting it, and U.S. and UN efforts to inform allies how the PA uses foreign aid money. To date, State has not complied. . . .
The Palestinian Authority’s recalcitrance matters, because U.S. aid was never envisioned as a permanent entitlement or act of charity. We have provided aid because we judged it in our national interest to support state-building and peace, and we believed money would promote those goals. But our money has had the opposite effect: it has rewarded rejectionism, promoted contempt among Palestinian leaders for the United States, and encouraged a Palestinian society in which virtually every function of governance—from trash collection and schools to hospitals and infrastructure—comes from Western aid. These are not conditions in which peace is possible.