The Congressional Israel Victory Caucus (CIVC) was launched on Thursday in an effort to revitalize U.S. engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, building on perspectives espoused by the Middle East Forum (MEF).
The caucus calls for the need to put the onus of peace on the Palestinians, to give up their rejectionist claims about Israel's right to exist as Jewish state. The initiative also calls for the U.S. to cease pressuring Israel to make major concessions that often lead to more Palestinian violence and terrorism.
Co-chairs, Reps. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, expressed strong support for Israel and its right to defend itself at Thursday's launch event, which featured several other Republican congressmen.
"Israel is not the problem in the Middle East; it is the solution to many of the problems that bedevil the region. American policy must ensure that Israel emerges victorious against those who deny or threaten her existence," DeSantis said in a statement announcing the initiative.
The caucus wants the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop its violent incitement against Jews and Israelis. It aims to help reverse one sided, anti-Israel United Nations resolutions and oppose efforts to delegitimize Israel through initiatives such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Palestinian incitement prevents peace from materializing, Johnson said, specifically calling out the widespread practice of naming Palestinian institutions and schools after terrorists responsible for murdering innocent Israelis.
DeSantis also blasted the PA for continuing to pay terrorists' families after they committed attacks against Israelis.
"Any financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority by American taxpayers cannot continue so long as the PA continues to pay pensions and salaries for families of terrorists. It's a simply inappropriate use of taxpayer money and it's not fair to the American taxpayer," DeSantis said at Thursday's event.
The Taylor Force Act, a bill named after a 28-year-old American tourist killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Israel last year, would prohibit U.S. assistance to the PA until terrorist salaries and payments cease.
"If you die as a terrorist, as a 'martyr,' your family will get an annual stipend greater than the average Palestinian earns. In this case, the terrorist who killed Taylor Force...was hailed as a hero, was basically given a state funeral, and his family was given money by the state," says sponsor Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.