Congress to limit US aid to Palestinians over 'martyr payments'
The US Congress is set to pass legislation to sharply reduce the annual $300 million in American aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it take steps to stop making what US lawmakers described as payments that reward violent crime.
The measure, known as the Taylor Force Act, is expected to pass the US House of Representatives and Senate this week as part of a massive spending bill unveiled on Wednesday.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced the new anti-Palestinian legislation. Graham, like most US lawmakers, is strongly pro-Israel due to the influence of the powerful Israel lobby in the US Congress.
The act is intended to stop the Palestinian Authority from paying stipends to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israeli forces.
More than 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October 2015.
The Israeli regime and the administration of US President Donald Trump have recently increased pressure on the Palestinian Authority to halt payments to the families of martyrs.
In January, Trump threatened to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to Palestinians if they refuse to participate in US-brokered “peace talks” with Israel.
The US State Department said in January that Washington will cut around one third of its contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for 2018, creating a financial crisis for the relief agency which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees.
The occupied Palestinian territories have seen tensions ever since Israel introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.
The Tel Aviv regime has tried to change the demographic makeup of Jerusalem al-Quds over the past decades by constructing settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population. Palestinians say the Israeli measures are aimed at paving the way for the Judaization of the city.
Palestinians were infuriated by Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the holy city.