A bill that would cut off US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it does not stop providing stipends to the families of terrorists passed an important hurdle last Thursday in the Senate and seems poised for passage by Congress.

The Taylor Force Act, named after a 29-year-old West Point graduate who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian while on a visit to Israel in March 2016, received bipartisan support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The House plans to take up a similar bill, and the White House has signaled that it would likely support the legislation.

The bill would end more than $300 million in direct US funding to the Palestinian Authority if it does not halt payments to the families of terrorists who are either in jail or were killed carrying out their crimes.

Stewart Force, the father of Taylor, a master’s student at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee at the time of his murder, told Mishpacha in a phone interview that he’s confident the bill will become law.

“We are very hopeful and encouraged from the progress that has been made in the last few months,” Stewart Force said. “We don’t want to see people living in turmoil or hatred, and we’re hopeful it will help the overall situation.”

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has spearheaded the act, and Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, has said he will support the legislation.

Taylor Force grew up in Lubbock, Texas, and was an officer in the US Army, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a third-generation soldier: his grandfather served in the Korean War, and Stewart served in the Air Force.

After his military service, Taylor moved to Nashville to study for a master’s degree at Vanderbilt. As part of his studies, he embarked on a weeklong study tour in Israel in 2016 to learn about the local high-tech industry and entrepreneurship.

“He was really excited to go to Israel, to study, to meet people, and to see the region,” said Stewart. “That was who he was. He enjoyed getting to know people, and living life large. He just wanted to embrace everything.”

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made the issue of stipends to the families of terrorists a core principle for the advancement of the peace process. “The first test for peace is to say to them, ‘You want peace, prove it, confront terror, stop rewarding terrorists,’ ” Netanyahu said in a recent Fox News interview.

Indeed, President Trump raised the issue of payments to terrorists when PA president Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House in May. In late July, the Jerusalem Post reported that the White House supports the “goals” of the bill and is “closely monitoring” the legislation. The Trump administration may be leveraging the bill to compel the Palestinians to change their funding habits. But PA representatives have said they are totally opposed to the bill, which they say will result in more violence.

According to research conducted by Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, in 2016 alone, the Palestinian Authority paid, either directly or indirectly, NIS 1.1 billion ($305,555,555) to terrorists in prisons or to their families. According to the study, that figure represents almost 7% of the PA’s total budget.

The payment to terrorists or their families depends on the crime. Those sentenced to minor offenses of up to three years in prison receive an allowance of NIS 1,400 a month ($388), while those sentenced to 30 years in jail or more receive no less than NIS 12,000 ($3,334) a month. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 672)