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Sen. Tom Cotton Introduces Bill to End U.S. Funding of Palestinian ‘Martyr Payments’

(Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by TOM WILLIAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Kate Anderson, Daily Caller News Foundation

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced a bill to eliminate “Palestinian ‘martyr payments'” using “the U.S. financial system” after calling out Democrats for their criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the bill.

The Taylor Force Act, which was passed in 2018 after U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force was murdered in Israel and payments were made to terrorist’s family by the Palestinian government, aimed to prevent U.S. funding from being used in the ‘Pay to Slay’ program which rewards terrorists and their families for attacking Israel and its citizens. Cotton announced Wednesday that he is introducing a bill titled “Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act of 2023” to prevent the Palestinian Authority government from specifically using foreign banks that utilize the “United States financial system” to pay terrorists’ families for attacking Israel.

Cotton’s bill would reinforce the original act by prohibiting the use of “U.S. dollar-denominated transactions” to make payments for the Pay to Slay program. The act would give the U.S. Treasury’s terrorism authorities the ability to “designate foreign banks as institutions of primary money laundering concern” who are tied to the program and prevent them from using “correspondent accounts in the U.S.”

“Radical Islamic terrorists shouldn’t be rewarded for killing innocent people, and banks should be held responsible for processing any sort of ‘martyr payments,'” Cotton said in the press release. “Our bill will build upon the original Taylor Force Act to ensure Palestinian terrorists don’t benefit financially for committing these senseless murders.”

The proposed bill comes just after Cotton heavily criticized Democrats and the Biden administration for their comments regarding Netanyahu and Israel, according to Cotton’s Tuesday statement.

“Leading Democrats have called [Netanyahu] a ‘reactionary,’ a ‘racist,’ an ‘ethno-nationalist,'” Cotton said. “They’ve accused him of committing ‘war crimes’ and of leading an ‘apartheid state.’ President Biden has called him ‘extreme’ and said they don’t agree on ‘a damn thing.’ Strong words.”

A White House spokesperson referred the DCNF to the State Department when asked for comment.

Cotton also referenced a recent report from the Washington Free Beacon that found the State Department has been giving funds to the Movement for Quality Government, a non-partisan, non-profit organization claiming to be working to defend Israel’s democracy that has been pushing to remove Netanyahu from office.

A spokesperson for the State Department told the DCNF that the most recent funding for MQG was in Sept. 2022 and went as far back as 2020.

“The State Department had provided small grants to MQG, including a grant signed in 2020 during the previous administration and continued under the Biden Administration that focused on teaching civic education and supporting good governance,” the spokesperson said.

The Arkansas senator pointed to the Obama and Clinton administrations’ opposition to Netanyahu as evidence that Democrats had been “meddling in Israeli democracy” for “more than a quarter century,” according to the statement. Biden, according to Cotton, is simply following the “de facto policy” set for him to “sabotage Netanyahu.”

“President Biden and his administration should quit treating Prime Minister Netanyahu like he’s a rival or even an adversary and start treating him as he is—a war hero, a courageous patriot, a towering figure of modern Israel, and most important for us, a great friend of America,” Cotton said.

Cotton and the State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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