Senate panel to hold hearing on Taylor Force Act
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Senate panel to hold hearing on Taylor Force Act

Veteran diplomat Elliott Abrams to testify in favor of bill cutting US funds to Palestinian Authority for its payouts to terrorists

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) left,, speaks as Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) sits at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington DC, February 9, 2017. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)
Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) left,, speaks as Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) sits at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington DC, February 9, 2017. (Mario Tama/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON — The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday to consider the Taylor Force Act, legislation that would cut US funding to the Palestinian Authority for providing monetary support to those who commit acts of terror against Israelis and others.

Elliott Abrams, a longtime figure of the Washington establishment and pro-Israel community, who held multiple high-level positions in the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush administrations, will testify in support of the measure.

The bill, which was introduced by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in February, is named after former US army officer Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death in March 2016 by a Palestinian assailant while visiting Tel Aviv.

Force was 29 years old at the time and had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was traveling as a Vanderbilt University graduate student on a program studying global entrepreneurship.

Vanderbilt University held a campus memorial service for Taylor Force, above, on March 18, 2016. (Facebook)
Vanderbilt University held a campus memorial service for Taylor Force, above, on March 18, 2016. (Facebook)

The United States currently gives the PA nearly $500 million in annual aid. The legislation would allow only the portion designated for security assistance — roughly $60 million — to stay in place.

While it’s not yet clear how much support the measure will attract, it has seen some bipartisan backing in recent weeks, despite being primarily championed by Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, who serves as ranking member of the Senate foreign relations panel, each signaled they could back it at the Orthodox Union’s annual Washington action day last month.

Elliott Abrams testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Elliott Abrams testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

US President Donald Trump has not yet taken a firm stance on the bill. He did, however, confront PA President Mahmoud Abbas on this issue during their meetings in Washington and Bethlehem in May.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, for his part, told House members last month there was an “active” bilateral discussion ongoing to resolve the matter.

“We will continue this dialogue with them,” he told the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He went on to say that Trump has only a “certain window of patience” and “a certain window which he will remain engaged and be interested.”

“At some point,” the top US diplomat added, “he’s going to become disinterested. And when we become disinterested, that will certainly alter our level of support.”

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