WASHINGTON, DC (KCBD) - U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Dan Coats (R-Indiana), and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) hosted a press conference today to introduce legislation which would cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority if they continue their policy of paying monetary rewards for acts of terrorism.
This comes after 28-year-old Lubbock native, Taylor Force, was attacked and killed by a Palestinian on March 8 while in Israel as part of a school trip with Vanderbilt University.
Taylor Force's parents attended the conference, and Graham addressed them along with the crowd with this message about Force:
"He was everything a parent could hope to have in a son, everything that a sister could hope to have in a brother…everything America could hope to have in one of their young people. A man who served our country in combat, who was dedicating his life to building up society rather than tearing it down."
Senator Coats started the process they are engaged in today, Graham said, and the "bill is not a result of animosity toward the Palestinian people."
"It is push back against state-sponsored terrorism," Graham said.
Graham detailed that the law in Palestine allows free education to anyone who is imprisoned for an act of violence inside of Israel and to their children. He said they will get paid as long as they are in jail.
The longer they are in jail and the worse the crime, Graham said the more they get paid. He said they are exempt from fees and tuition for government schooling, and they have free healthcare if they serve five years as a man, or three years as a woman.
"These are laws on the books that reward young Palestinian men and women to commit acts of terrorism," Graham said.
Graham went on to say that "This is a law, and we provide money to the Palestinian authority trying to build up the Palestinian people."
In Palestine, if someone died as a martyr, then Graham said their family gets a lifetime payment from the government.
"The man who killed Taylor Force was received in Palestine as a hero," Graham said. "His family will get paid."
Graham told the crowd they want to let Force's family know he did not die in vain.
"Senator Coats introduced an amendment that would phase out economic assistance to Palestinians unless they change their laws," Graham said. "This legislation would stop economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority until they change their laws."
They introduce this legislation without animosity, Graham said, but with a firm resolve to bring about change.
"Enough is enough," he said. "Things have to change for them to actually change."
Graham closed out his statements by saying "You will never achieve peace when you pay one of your young men to kill someone like Taylor Force."'
Force's father, Stuart force, started his speech by saying "this has been quite a journey."
"We were privileged to have him in our family," he said.
As time passed after Force's death, Stuart said he and his wife got information about the payments that was "incomprehensible" to them.
"Robbi and I were both terribly upset that a person like Taylor, had they met in different circumstances, they may have been acquaintances," he said. "At least been able to talk."
Stuart and Robbi decided this is what they want to do with their "golden years", to voice their support and address this problem.
"I appreciate all the support we've gotten from friends, classmates and strangers," Stuart said. "It's been the reason we've been able to get through this."
To watch the full press conference, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqroeCjTC_Q&app=desktop