This bill would prohibit aid to the West Bank and Gaza “that directly benefits the PA” until the secretary of state can certify that the PA, PLO and any affiliated organizations are “taking credible steps” to end acts of violence against U.S. and Israeli citizens in the West Bank and “publicly condemning such acts”; ending the PA’s monthly payments to the perpetrators of such attacks; and dismantling any system for compensating imprisoned Palestinians that uses the individual’s sentence to determine the amount of compensation allotted. If the secretary is unable to make this certification, he would be required to report to Congress the reasons why and the total amount of aid withheld.
The secretary would also be required to report to Congress annually on variety of indicators related to the Palestinian payments in question and U.S. efforts to stop them.
The prohibition described above would not apply to aid for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, wastewater projects, and any program or project that provides vaccinations to children. This exception was reportedly added to the bill following backroom pressure from the White House. In public, Trump administration officials consistently supported the bill. At the same time, there were sporadic reports that some in the administration thought passing it into law would negatively affect their efforts to restart Palestinian-Israeli peace talks (see JPS 47 [1–3]). In early 2018, there were reports that Senate Republicans were interested in removing these exceptions. In the version that ultimately passed into law (see *H.R.1625 of 3/20/17), the exceptions for wastewater projects and vaccinations were each capped at $500,000 per year.
This bill was named for the U.S. citizen killed by a Palestinian assailant on 3/8/16 in Tel Aviv.
While this bill was percolating through Congress in 2017, Palestinian solidarity activists and their allies argued that it would lead to the PA being labeled a supporter of terrorism if it opted not to end the compensation program described above. They feared that label would lead to calls for the U.S. to apply anti-terror laws to the PA.