US Committee Approves Bill that Cuts Aid to Palestinians

A truck loaded with aid parcels in Gaza. (Photo: MEMO)

A US House of Representatives committee yesterday approved a bill that would sharply reduce the $300 million in annual US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) unless it halts payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and to the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

As reported by Reuters, the House Foreign Affairs Committee backed the “Taylor Force Act” by voice vote, without opposition, a sign of bipartisan support for the legislation.

A previous version of the bill, which “would have completely cut off US economic assistance to the West Bank”, met with opposition from some Democratic lawmakers forcing a compromise.

The bill is named after an American citizen killed by a Palestinian assailant last year. To become law, the bill must pass the full House and Senate, and be signed into law by President Donald Trump. “Congressional aides said they expect a vote in the House before the end of 2017,” Reuters stated.

Reuters added that “similar legislation has been passed by two Senate committees, but there was no immediate word on when the full Senate might take up the bill”.

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who introduced the bill with Republican Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., told Al-Monitor he’s “concerned” with some of the revisions in the House. “We’ve got probably 90 [Senate] votes for our version, but we’ll talk with our House colleagues. I’m glad they’re making progress.”

According to Al-Monitor, “current US law already requires a dollar reduction in US economic assistance to the West Bank for every dollar the PA spends on the martyrs’ fund”.

“Furthermore, although the bill would cut funding that ‘directly benefits’ the PA, the United States does not currently provide direct budgetary support to the PA itself; instead, much of the US economic assistance is used to pay off PA debts to Israel,” the site added.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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