WASHINGTON, D.C. — An amendment submitted by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) that makes significant improvements to the Taylor Force Act was adopted by the Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday after it was successfully put forward by bill author Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and supported in committee by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

The changes ensure that no American economic aid will directly benefit the Palestinian Authority as long as it continues its prisoner payment policy, and, critically, creates an exception in the law to allow for the provision of important humanitarian aid, such as workforce development programs that help keep young Palestinians from becoming radicalized and people to people programs that foster trust and goodwill between Israelis and Palestinians.  

“The Palestinian Authority’s prisoner payment system, which encourages horrific, unspeakable violence against the Israeli people is an inexcusable policy that must be changed,” Senator Booker said. “I have consistently and forcefully denounced this reprehensible practice alongside my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The original language of the Taylor Force Act created the potential for unintended consequences that could threaten Israel’s security by needlessly contributing to an environment where the most vulnerable are harmed and extremism thrives. The addition of our amendment to the Taylor Force Act in the appropriations subcommittee was one of several ways to address my serious humanitarian concerns with the previous version of the bill, and I’m glad to lend my support now that these changes have been included on a bipartisan basis. The modifications made allow the Taylor Force Act to live up to what it previously only purported to be, and will advance U.S. and Israeli security interests, and stability in the region.”

“We should crack down on a government that rewards terrorism, but we don’t want to harm innocent people or create even more of the poverty and desperation that fuels terrorism in the first place,” Senator Merkley said. “I’m glad Senator Booker and I could partner with others to make this bill better deliver on its aims.”