Measure to limit Palestinian aid over ‘martyr payments’ due to pass US Congress

Demonstrators burn a poster depicting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a protest on March 21. The US Congress is set to pass legislation that would sharply reduce US aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it takes steps to stop has been described as payments that reward violent crime. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2018
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Measure to limit Palestinian aid over ‘martyr payments’ due to pass US Congress

WASHINGTON: Legislation to sharply reduce the annual $300 million in US aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it takes steps to stop making what lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crime is set to be passed by the US Congress this week as part of a major spending bill unveiled on Wednesday.
The measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, was named after a 29-year-old American military veteran fatally stabbed by a Palestinian while visiting Israel in 2016.
The act is intended to stop the Palestinians from paying stipends, referred to as “martyr payments,” to the families of militants killed or imprisoned by Israeli authorities. The payments can reach $3,500 a month.
Force’s attacker was killed by Israeli police, and his killer’s family receives such a monthly payment.
US House of Representatives and Senate leaders reached an agreement on Wednesday on the massive omnibus spending bill, which they aim to pass by Friday night.
Force’s parents live in South Carolina, the home state of Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who introduced the legislation.
“Passage of the Taylor Force Act will give us much needed leverage with the Palestinians to push back on this outrageous policy,” Graham said in a statement on Wednesday.
The measure has been working its way through Congress for some time. Despite the generally strong pro-Israel sentiment of most lawmakers, it was held up by the concern of some members of Congress that cutting too much aid could lead to increased unrest and instability in the Palestinian territories.
President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans control majorities in both the House and Senate.
Palestinian officials have said they see the payments as necessary support for relatives of those imprisoned by Israel for fighting against occupation or who have died in connection with that cause.


UN envoy says ‘robust monitoring regime’ urgently needed in Yemen, Saudi hails Yemen accord

Updated 14 December 2018
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UN envoy says ‘robust monitoring regime’ urgently needed in Yemen, Saudi hails Yemen accord

  • The withdrawal of armed forces from the Yemeni port of Hodeidah will happen within days
  • Saudi Arabia says it is committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen

JEDDAH: UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths on Friday urged the creation of a “robust and competent monitoring regime” in war-ravaged Yemen, one day after fighting parties agreed to a cease-fire at a vital port.
“A robust and competent monitoring regime is not just essential. It is also urgently needed,” Griffiths told the Security Council, adding that “allowing the UN the lead role in the ports is the vital first step.”
If implemented, the deal on Hodeidah port, a key gateway for aid and food imports, could bring relief to a country where 14 million people stand on the brink of famine.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Friday hailed the accord reached at the UN-brokered peace talks in Sweden.
Yemen’s warring parties on Thursday agreed to a cease-fire on a vital port in a series of breakthroughs in the talks.
In a statement by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom backed “the agreements reached in Sweden in UN-sponsored talks between a delegation of Yemen’s legitimate government and the Houthi rebels,” the official SPA news agency reported.
“The Kingdom remains engaged in the search for a political solution in Yemen which guarantees the security and stability of the country,” the statement said.
The statement also called on the Iran-aligned Houthis to “embark on this path” toward a political solution.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry also said on Friday that it welcomed the agreement between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi militia. 
The ministry said that the Kingdom was committed to reaching a political solution that guarantees the security and stability of Yemen.
The handing over of the port of Hodeidah to the control of the United Nations will help to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, the ministry stressed.