Republican Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill on Wednesday that would immediately halt U.S. aid to the Palestinians until they halt their effort to join the International Criminal Court to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ recent turn to the international court at The Hague marked a major policy shift and transformed his relations with Israel from strained to openly hostile. Abbas has been under heavy domestic pressure to take stronger action against Israel after a 50-day war between the Jewish state and militants in Gaza over the summer, tensions over holy sites in Jerusalem and the failure of the last round of U.S.-led peace talks.
While Palestinian membership in the court doesn’t automatically incur U.S. punishment, existing law says any Palestinian case against Israel at the court would trigger an immediate cutoff of U.S. financial support. The Kentucky senator’s bill would ban assistance until the Palestinians stop their move to become a member of the court.