Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Tells State Dept. to End All Aid to Palestinians

Apr 4, 2018
Press Release
Taxpayer Dollars Should Never Be Used to Reward Terrorists

“Absurd and Outrageous Policy Must End”

WASHINGTON – In a letter sent today to the State Department, Congressman Vern Buchanan called for an immediate halt in all aid to the Palestinian Authority, which has used the money to reward terrorists.

“The Palestinian Authority just increased its bonus payments to terrorists who kill Americans and Israelis,” Buchanan said in his letter to acting Secretary of State John Sullivan. “If we continue to provide financial aid we are directly contributing to the murder of innocent people.”

Buchanan is a co-sponsor of legislation that cuts off economic assistance to the PA, called the Taylor Force Act, which was just signed into law. But Buchanan said the bill does not go far enough because it fails to immediately end the roughly $400 million in economic aid, instead making it conditional on the PA reforming its policy of rewarding terrorists and their families. It also does not end so-called “security assistance” to the PA, which averages $100 million a year. Buchanan urged the State Department to terminate all $500 million in annual aid to the PA.

It is abundantly clear that despite passage of the Taylor Force Act, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of ending rewards for terrorists who kill Americans or Israelis, Buchanan said. Abbas defiantly stated he would rather lose his presidency than stop the payments. “Even if I will have to leave my position, I will not compromise on the salary of a martyr or a prisoner,” he said.

Since the mid-1990s the Palestinian Authority has received over $5 billion in foreign aid from the United States, according to the Congressional Research Service.

“This absurd and outrageous policy must end,” Buchanan said in his letter.

Buchanan cited recent press reports that a Palestinian who murdered an Israeli rabbi is now eligible for compensation. Although the Palestinian was killed in the attack, his family is eligible for “martyr” payments.

Last year the Palestinian Authority paid out $315 million – accounting for nearly 8 percent of its entire budget – in payments to prisoners and relatives of terrorists, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under Palestinian law, terrorists convicted of attacks are eligible for monthly “salaries” after their arrest, as well as cash grants and priority civil-service job placements upon their release, as reported by the Washington Post. Even more disturbing, the deadlier the attack or longer the prison sentence, the more money their families receive.

The Taylor Force Act is named after Taylor Force, who was brutally stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist while visiting Israel on a Vanderbilt University trip. According to the Wall Street Journal, Force’s murderer, Bashar Masalha, was killed by police but his relatives “now receive monthly payments equal to several times the average Palestinian wage.” Taylor Force was an Army veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

Text of the letter below.

April 4, 2018

The Honorable John J. Sullivan

Acting Secretary 

United States Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Acting Secretary Sullivan,

I am writing to urge the State Department to immediately end all foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It is abundantly clear that despite recent congressional action, the PA and President Mahmoud Abbas have no intention of halting the despicable practice of rewarding acts of terrorism. The Palestinian Authority does not deserve a dime from American taxpayers.

The Palestinian Authority just increased its bonus payments to terrorists who kill Americans and Israelis. If we continue to provide financial aid we are directly contributing to the murder of innocent people. This absurd and outrageous policy must end.

As you know, President Trump recently signed the Taylor Force Act into law, which requires your agency to certify that the PA is meeting certain conditions by April 22nd in order to continue receiving economic assistance from the United States. 

Specifically, this legislation requires you to verify that the Palestinian Authority has ceased all payments to jailed terrorists and the families of so-called ‘martyrs’ who die committing acts of terror in Israel. This new law also requires you to certify that the PA is taking credible steps to end acts of violence against Americans and Israelis and is publicly condemning and investigating acts of terror.

And while I was a co-sponsor of this bill in the U.S. House and support its intent, I am asking you to take it one step further and immediately cease all aid, including security assistance.

Recent evidence clearly demonstrates that the Palestinian Authority will continue to do business as usual and continue its despicable practice of “pay for slay.”

In fact, just last week the Palestinian Authority advertised its 2018 budget, which includes $355 million in funding to pay the salaries of convicted terrorists and their families. Shockingly, this accounts for nearly 8 percent of the PA’s entire budget and 44 percent of the foreign aid it expects to receive from international donor countries, including the U.S. and our European allies.

Even more troubling, Palestinian terrorists are still eligible to receive financial rewards. A Palestinian attacker recently killed an Israeli rabbi and father of six in a drive-by shooting. The family of the terrorist, who was tracked down and killed after attacking Israeli soldiers, is now eligible for PA payments. The Palestinian Authority has also failed to publicly condemn this attack and countless others in recent history. 

PA President Abbas has also continuously stated that he would rather lose his presidency than end these “martyr” payments, stating, “Even if I will have to leave my position I will not compromise on the salary of a martyr or a prisoner.”

Recent evidence and the PA’s troubling track record should serve as more than enough justification to terminate financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority. American tax dollars should never be used to reward terrorism. 

I appreciate your attention to this important issue and look forward to your response.