WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today spoke on the Senate floor about the growing problem of American taxpayer dollars going to Palestinian terrorists and their families.
Since 2014, there have been at least 45 terrorist attacks in Israel that killed 85 people, including Taylor Force, a U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist in March.
“Americans may know through recent media reports of the wave of Palestinian violence currently injecting new poison into the region,” said Coats. “But what most don’t know is that the United States is supporting it with taxpayer dollars.”
Coats said that since 1998, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been encouraging terrorist attacks against Israel by honoring and supporting Palestinian terrorists who are serving criminal sentences in Israeli prisons and financially rewarding the families of these Palestinians “martyred” by their own violent acts.
“This system of payments has been formalized and expanded by President Abbas in presidential directives,” said Coats. “Palestinian terrorist prisoners are regarded by the PA as patriotic ‘fighters’ and as employees of the government of the Palestinian Authority. While in prison, these terrorists and their families are paid premium salaries and given extra benefits as rewards for their service. Upon release from custody, the terrorists become civil service employees. Shockingly, monthly salaries for both incarcerated and released prisoners are on a sliding scale, depending on the severity of the crime and length of prison sentence.”
In May 2014, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree that moved this payment system from the PA to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
“The openly acknowledged reason for this shift was to side-step the increasingly critical scrutiny of this payment system by foreign governments who are contributing so much of the money that is keeping the PA afloat,” said Coats. “These payments provide rewards and motivations for brutal terrorists, plain and simple. To provide U.S. taxpayer money to Abbas and his government so that they can treat terrorists as heroes or glorious martyrs is morally unacceptable.”
In 2014, Coats co-sponsored an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 State/Foreign Operations appropriations bill that provided for the reduction of budgetary support for the PA “by an amount…expended by the Palestinian Authority as payments for acts of terrorism…” This provision became law.
Coats said he is working with his colleagues to end American financial support for these incarcerated terrorists or their families.
“We will identify the amount of money that flows from the PA to the PLO for this purpose and cut U.S. assistance by that amount at least,” said Coats. “If that partial cut-off of U.S. aid is not sufficient to motivate the Palestinian Authority to end this immoral system of payments to terrorists, I will propose a complete suspension of financial assistance until the policy is changed. I am aware that suspending assistance to the Palestinians will have other consequences that we – and Israel – will have to address. But I believe the pressure that we and other like-minded governments could apply in this manner will bring President Abbas and other Palestinian officials to their senses.”