Graham, Corker Bill Named for Slain Vanderbilt University Graduate Student Demands Palestinian Authority End Terrorism Payments
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a news conference with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) after committee passage of their legislation that demands the Palestinian Authority end its policy of compensating terrorists. The Taylor Force Act would restrict U.S. economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza until the Palestinian Authority stops paying terrorists guilty of violence against Israelis and Americans. The bill is named after a Vanderbilt University graduate student who was killed in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv last year.
Corker’s remarks at the news conference are included below.
“I first want to thank Lindsey, Senator Graham, for bringing this issue forward. I agree with everything he just said relative to the legislation. And I want to also thank Sander Gerber who came into my office and laid out the evolution in this law. I think many people don't understand that these laws have been in place -- they've been put in place by presidential decree.
“I think we know that the government there is not really functioning in an appropriate way. I think [Mahmoud] Abbas is 12 years in on a four or five-year term, at present. And these laws were then put in place by the president himself. It’s continued to evolve.
“To put some -- just a little more context here, if you commit a very -- fairly low-level terrorist act, you get paid $400 a month. If you commit a very egregious terrorist act -- you murder an Israeli or someone else and you get a 30-year sentence, you get $3,500 a month.
“In interviews with prisoners in Israeli jails who had committed these acts, they clearly stated their goal was to ensure that they did something egregious enough to at least get a five-year sentence where the payment is stepped up.
“This is -- this is sick. This is sick. And what Lindsey laid out relative to how this person [who killed Taylor Force] was heralded in his own country is, again, sick. It’s sick.
“I met Stuart Force, Taylor’s dad. We talked extensively. I'm glad that the United States Senate today and the committee, on a 17-4 vote, honored his life by making a change that will affect so many other people.
“Taylor Force, as Lindsey mentioned, not only was a native of South Carolina, but he went to Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, so it is interesting how lives become interwoven.
“But our actions today I think speak to -- I know speak to the fact that what has happened here will hopefully, when passed, prevent other people from having the same fate: an innocent person going about their activities in an innocent way, being murdered by someone who's being incented to do that by their own government.
“So I am proud of what we have done today.
“I want to thank Lindsey for his passionate leadership on this issue. I want to thank him for his passionate leadership on the Russia issue, which again ended up passing the Senate 98 to 2 and passed the House with only 3 no vote. And I like the way that we are able to work together to make good things happen for our nation relative to foreign policy.
“I do wish everyone here could have seen the markup today. Pretty incredible. A very open process where people expressed opinions. We came to a resolve that, as Senator Graham mentioned, I think has made this bill a better bill. It's a bill now that is very crisp, it's surgical, it's meant to change the behavior of the Palestinian Authority, as he has mentioned so eloquently, but not intended to hurt the Palestinian people that have nothing to do with this law that’s been put in place by their government.
“So with that, let me stop.
“Let me thank Lindsey one more time for his passionate leadership on this issue. And let me thank my colleagues, Senator Cardin, who's worked with us, others on the committee who caused today’s passage to be what it is. And I do look forward to it becoming law.”