December 7, 2017 - Issue: Vol. 163, No. 200 — Daily Edition115th Congress (2017 - 2018) - 1st Session
TAYLOR FORCE ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 200
(Extensions of Remarks - December 07, 2017)
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[Extensions of Remarks] [Pages E1674-E1675] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] TAYLOR FORCE ACT ______ speech of HON. ANTHONY G. BROWN of maryland in the house of representatives Tuesday, December 5, 2017 Mr. BROWN of Maryland. Mr. Speaker, today in Israel and Palestine-- it's hard to see fertile ground for peace. Peace is cultivated by tolerance and mutual understanding; when we work to move beyond hatreds and accept paths of compromise. I'm disappointed that the Palestinian Authority has continued to fund further bloodshed and hatred by tolerating, encouraging, and even glorifying violence. They do so by making payments to those who kill in the name of hatred. This year alone, the Palestinian Authority has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars in its budget to provide payments to Palestinians in prison for terrorist attacks, and to the families of those who died while carrying out such attacks. The Palestinian system provides more money to those who serve longer sentences, meaning the more heinous the attack--the greater the financial compensation. These payments are higher than the assistance provided to Palestinians living in poverty, and is four times higher than the average salary in the West Bank. There is no question that this policy of financially rewarding convicted terrorists is abhorrent and must stop. We've heard a lot about Captain Taylor Force--a U.S. citizen, a West Point graduate, and U.S. Army veteran who had survived combat in Iraq and was studying entrepreneurship at Vanderbilt University. Like the men and women with whom I served during my 30 years in the Army, Taylor was an American patriot whose future was bright. Yet his life was stolen from him by a knife-wielding terrorist. Shortly after the murder of Taylor, Fatah--the political party of President Mahmoud Abbas-- posted a statement online praising Captain Force's attacker as a hero and ``martyr.'' Taylor wasn't murdered by a single assailant, but by a political cultural and political system that foments hatred and rewards terror. Yes, I understand the opposing arguments that seek to justify these payments or attempt to explain the context of the historic and political relationship between Israel and the Palestinians. Yet, the violence is unacceptable and cannot be supported by payments to those who commit violence. There is no reason to believe these payments will end, without strong external pressure--and year after year, the United States is the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority. The United States government is right to seek a way to convince President Abbas to end this horrible behavior that incentivizes violence against civilians and who sees this as ``an integral part of the weave of Arab Palestinian society.'' Conditioning our Economic Support Funds might finally convince President Abbas to end financial support for terrorists and their families. It's important to note that the House version of this bill preserves humanitarian democracy assistance, that has a direct impact on the daily lives of Palestinians--it will keep a network of hospitals running in East Jerusalem, allow for investments in wastewater infrastructure projects, and continue childhood vaccinations. While the Taylor Force Act aims to push the Palestinian Authority to stop rewarding hate, violence, and terrorism, we need to do more to change the underlying culture of intolerance between the Israelis and Palestinians. Congress should consider increasing alternative forms of assistance outside of our traditional programs--assistance that could counter the influence of incitements and support civil society. USAID oversees a $26 million people-to-people reconciliation fund--of which $10 million is allocated annually for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--through its Conflict Management and Mitigation program. These grants provide funding for Israeli and Palestinian NGOs that bring people together to change attitudes and build bridges, like the Center for Shared Society that goes into schools to increase dialogue between Israeli-Arab and Israeli-Jewish youth. When I visited Israel in August, I heard directly from prominent Arab Israelis who described to me how effective these programs are. We should also support economic partnerships that promote the least ideological and most pragmatic elements of Palestinian society--like tech companies and startups--that will increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for Palestinians. These include the ``Peace for Profits'' initiatives. Directing U.S. taxpayer dollars towards these program, would send a loud and powerful signal that we remain invested in Palestinians and are choosing those who promote reconciliation and peace over those who support violence. The Taylor Force Act gives us an opportunity to reassess our assistance to the Palestinians. And we must do it in a way that brings us closer to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. [[Page E1675]] ____________________