Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

After amendment, Booker now supports Taylor Force Act

With a significant change in the latest version of the Taylor Force Act, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) will now support the effort after an amendment was agreed to on Thursday by the Appropriations Committee, a Booker aide told Jewish Insider. The New Jersey lawmaker was one of four Democratic Senators to vote against the Taylor Force Act in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month.

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According to section five of last month’s bill, all U.S. funding to programs in the West Bank and Gaza would end unless the Secretary of State could certify every 180 days that the Palestinian Authority is taking credible steps to stop violence against Israelis, in addition to ending all payments to terrorists and their families.

However, in an updated version advanced out of the Appropriations Committee on Thursday, and sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the text clarifies that the U.S. funding to the West Bank and Gaza would only be severed for assistance that “directly benefits the P.A.” Therefore, U.S. funding towards humanitarian projects assisting Palestinians would now be permitted, a key demand by Booker who was concerned about the impact of cutting off U.S. aid to Palestinians not involved with committing acts of terrorism.

Programs that will now be exempted include “Kids4peace” which connects Israeli and Palestinian children from West and East Jerusalem to celebrate religious diversity. Additionally, the “Olive Oil without Borders” project that builds economic cooperation between Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians and encourages women-led businesses.

Earlier this week, the hawkish Committee for Israel launched an attack ad against Booker accusing him of “throwing Israel under the bus” for his vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Booker is considered a possible 2020 Presidential candidate.

Originally introduced in February, the legislation would cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until they cease payments to families of terrorists. Graham included the provision into the Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill on Thursday. The bill is named after a former U.S. Army officer who was stabbed to death while participating in a study abroad program in Tel Aviv last year.

In a statement released last month, Booker explained his committee vote, “As recently as the day before the vote there was confusion among State Department officials over provisions in the bill and exactly what impact they would have on Israel’s security and the stability of the region.”

However, even the revised version of the bill faces other considerations. As Jewish Insider first reported, the U.S. will likely be unable to participate in the water agreement trumpeted by the Trump administration due to cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.

Given the scarcity of floor time in the Senate, it appears that the Taylor Force Act will go to the floor through the annual appropriations bill rather than in a standalone bill.

Demolition order issued for home of Palestinian who killed girl in her bed

The family of the Palestinian terrorist who killed a 13-year-old girl in her bed was informed that their home will be demolished.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories unit, or COGAT, on Monday night announced plans to raze the home of Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, 17, of the village of Bani Naim, adjacent to Kiryat Arba.

Tarayrah jumped over the security fence of the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, entered the bedroom of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a dual Israeli and American citizen, through an open window and stabbed her repeatedly, before being shot and killed by a community civilian guard, on June 30.

Immediately following the attack the village was sealed off and permits to work in Israel were revoked for the village’s residents, many of whom are related to the attacker. Tarayrah’s sister was arrested for incitement after publicly praising her brother’s actions. Two of his brothers reportedly were arrested on Sunday.

The demolition order was served to Tarayrah’s family by Israeli soldiers on Monday night.

Father of 10 killed in terrorist shooting remembered as intellectual and giving man

More than 1,000 mourners attended the funeral for a father of 10 who was killed in a West Bank drive-by shooting.

The funeral of Rabbi Michael “Miki” Mark was held Sunday in the Otniel settlement in the West Bank followed by his burial in Jerusalem. Mark was killed Friday when terrorists opened fire on his car as he drove near Hebron.

President Reuven Rivlin, a distant relative of Mark, delivered remarks at his funeral.

“I stand in front of your coffin, Miki, Michael, in sorrow and anguish, and with me stand an entire nation, together grieving,” Rivlin said, according to Haaretz. “Even before the Sabbath began, the murderer’s hand robbed your family of you in cold blood, in front of two of your children, and in front of your beloved wife, Chavi, who was seriously injured.

“Miki, I am sorry to say that I learned about you, only after your death. I learned that you were a loving and beloved father, grandfather and son. An intellectual who was also a man of action. A person who loved hands-on work, but also excelled in the house of learning.”

Mark’s son Yeshoshua said that “as the years pass, we find greater depth. More people you helped. A community of admirers. You taught us to accept the other. You were a giving man with endless time, attention and thought. A man of perception at all levels.”

One of Mark’s daughter, Orit, called her father “the most amazing in the world.”

“How much you gave. How much you did,” she said.

His children, in a video posted on social media, had appealed for mourners to attend the funeral to memorialize their father.

“Come and hear how good our father was, and you’ll be better people, more loving people,” one of his daughters said.

Along with his wife, Chavi, being seriously wounded in the shooting, two of his children were lightly injured.

French prosecutor says train gunman had ‘terrorist intent’

The Paris prosecutor on Tuesday dismissed a claim by the gunman disarmed by passengers on a train between Amsterdam and Paris that he had been planning a robbery, and opened an investigation into “attempted murder with terrorist intent.”

Francois Molins dismissed as “far-fetched” Moroccan Ayoub el Khazzani's assertion that he had wanted to rob passengers on the high-speed train where he was wrestled to the ground by passengers, including two off-duty U.S. servicemen.

“Ayoub el Khazzani had watched whilst already on the Thalys train YouTube files in which an individual called on the faithful to fight and take up arms in the name of the Prophet,” Molins told a news conference.

Two people were wounded in the struggle on Friday to subdue the attacker, who had an assault rifle, a hand gun and some 270 bullets.

Speaking after Khazzani was charged following four days of questioning, Molins said the gunman had bought a first class ticket worth 149 euros ($170), declining to take an earlier train despite it being cheaper.

“It seemed to be a premeditated and targeted project,” he said. “According to all the witness statements gathered, he had a resolute attitude and was determined to carry out his actions.”

Molins said Khazzani had claimed to have found a case containing a telephone, weapons and munitions in a public park where he was living the day before his departure.

“He said that when he got on the train he had no terrorism plan … in his statements, which I deem far-fetched, he said he planned to rob the passengers of their money, smash a window and then jump out,” Molins said.

Despite Khazzani's claim that he had slept on a bench in Brussels in the days prior to boarding the train on Aug. 21, Molins said he had actually stayed with his sister in the Belgian capital, which was searched on Monday.

Molins said Khazzani had been identified by the Spanish authorities to French intelligence services in February 2014 because of his connections to radical Islam, before he took a job with a telephone company in France.

The prosecutor said the 25-year-old had spent between five and seven months near Paris at the start of 2014 before spells in Brussels, Cologne and Vienna.

Molins said Khazzani went to Istanbul from Berlin on May 10 before returning from Antakya in southern Turkey to Albania on June 4, adding that he may have traveled to Syria.

Khazzani denied going to Turkey.

Indian intelligence warns of possible terror attack on Israeli targets

Intelligence agencies in India have warned of a possible terror attack on Israeli targets in the country.

Potential targets include the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi or Israeli tourists, according to reports. New Delhi police have beefed up security around the Israeli Embassy, The Statesman reported.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced recently that he will visit Israel this year amid deepening ties between the two countries.

Israeli security officials told the Israeli media that the warning is “routine.”

An Israeli diplomat’s wife was injured by a car bomb in New Delhi in February 2012.

In November 2008, six Jews were killed at a Mumbai Chabad house during attacks on several sites throughout the city by a Pakistani terrorist group that left 166 dead and hundreds wounded.

Soldier shooting at eastern Jerusalem bus stop seen as terror attack

An Israeli soldier in uniform waiting at an eastern Jerusalem bus stop was shot in the stomach in what police said was likely a terror attack.

The soldier, in his 20s, reportedly is hospitalized in critical condition following Monday’s attack near the Hebrew University campus in Mount Scopus.

Less than three hours earlier, a tractor attack near the border between western and eastern Jerusalem left one man dead. Police called the incident a terrorist attack.

In the shooting, the gunman, reportedly dressed in black, shot the soldier and ran to a motorcycle before fleeing the scene in the direction of the Arab town of Wadi Joz.

Jerusalem Police Chief Yossi Pariente told reporters the incident was likely a terror attack.

Police have heightened security in Jerusalem in the wake of the two attacks.


Tel Aviv terrorist suspect says he changed his mind

An anonymous terrorist suspect called Tel Aviv police forces on Monday, August 4, and said he was fully equipped with explosives, prepared to detonate a bomb, but experienced a last-minute change of heart. Following two terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv was already in high-alert. The suspect explained, in Arabic, that he was from Hebron and currently in Tel Aviv, but unaware of his exact coordinates (apparently he was lost), right before being disconnected. A supposed recording of the phone call was uploaded onto social media; its authenticity hasn't been confirmed.