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Proposed GOP Bill Would End US Funding To Palestinians

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The official U.S. position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may be entering a new era. The traditional U.S. stance -- up through the Obama administration -- was to support a two-state solution to the conflict, while aiding both sides involved. But under a GOP-majority Congress, a bill has been introduced that would end U.S. support to the Palestinians.

"Americans want to help the Palestinians, but not if that money ends up supporting terrorism," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who led the group of senators that introduced the bill, notes Haaretz. "The victims of this policy of financing terrorists are Israeli citizens, American citizens and also young Palestinians."

The bill is named the Taylor Force Act, after a 29-year-old U.S. military veteran and American citizen killed in a terrorist attack in March 2016. He was on a trip with Vanderbilt University to Israel, when he was killed in the port city of Jaffa.

"This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world," a statement by the university read.

The Taylor Force Act would stop funding “to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards to terrorists and their surviving family members.” The Palestinian Authority receives about $400 million annually from the U.S. government, according to CBS.

The bill was introduced Feb. 28 to the Senate by Graham, along with GOP Sens. Roy Blunt, Tim Scott, Marco Rubio, John Boozman, Ted Cruz, Richard Burr, John Thune and Tom Cotton, as well as in the House by Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn of Colorado and Lee Zeldin of New York.

“This legislation shines a light on a very real problem,” Graham said at a press conference. “Why is the Palestinian Authority paying young Palestinians to commit acts of terror against innocent Americans like Taylor Force or Israelis? The Palestinians need to decide -- do they condemn these horrible acts or do they reward them?”

During a February meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump commented on his vision for a solution to the region's central issue, reports The Washington Times.

“The Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it's hard to do,” Trump said. “They're going to have to show the fact that they really want to make a deal. I think our new concept that we've been discussing actually for a while is something that allows them to show more flexibility than they have in the past, because we have a lot bigger canvas to play with."

Sources: CBS News, Haaretz (2), The Washington Post / Photo credit: Travel 2 Palestine/Flickr

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