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.


US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

Updated 13 min 13 sec ago
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US terror survey blames Iran for 'fomenting violence' in Middle East

  • The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism
  • The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened

WASHINGTON: The US has once again named Iran as the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, accusing it of intensifying numerous conflicts and trying to undermine governments throughout the Middle East.
The State Department's annual survey of global terrorism released on Wednesday said Iran and its proxies are responsible for fomenting violence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The report said Iranian fighters and Iran-backed militias, like Lebanon's Hezbollah, had emerged emboldened from the war in Syria and with valuable battlefield experience they seek to leverage elsewhere.
In addition, the survey reported a 24 percent decrease in attacks around the world between 2016 and 2017. That was due mainly to a sharp decline in the number of attacks in Iraq, where the Daesh group has been largely displaced.