(Washington Free Beacon) – Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) introduced a bill late Tuesday that would fully eliminate U.S. aid to the Palestinians until their leadership withdraws a controversial bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to a copy of the legislation exclusively obtained by the Free Beacon.
Paul’s bill comes on the heels of a bid by the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas to win a seat on the ICC, which would allow the Palestinians to inundate the court with charges against Israel for so-called war crimes and other perceived infractions.
The new bill also responds to a direct request from Israel that Congress immediately punish the Palestinians for circumventing the peace process and pursuing action against Israel on the world stage.
Paul’s bill, the Defend Israel by Defunding Palestinian Foreign Aid Act of 2015, would freeze $440 million in aid that is annually sent to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its affiliates.
Virtually all channels for aid disbursement to the PA would be choked off under the bill, according to the legislation.
The bill stipulates that “no amounts” of money can be “obligated or expended to provide any assistance, loan guarantee, or debt relief to the Palestinian Authority, or any affiliated governing entity, until the Palestinian Authority withdraws its request to join the International Criminal Court,” according to the legislation.
The legislation also would tighten existing regulations government how aid is disbursed to the PA.
“The United States Government must make immediately clear to the Palestinian Authority that its attempts to join the International Criminal Court will carry serious consequences,” the bill states.
Under current U.S. law, the Palestinians are legally permitted to join the ICC without facing monetary repercussions. However, U.S. aid would be restricted if they were to pursue legal charges against Israel.
Paul reportedly introduced the bill just hours before he was to meet with top Jewish donors.
Paul has been seeking to bolster his standing in Jewish circles, where some leading voices remain skeptical of his isolationist foreign policy views.
This is the second time that Paul has taken the lead to eliminate aid to the Palestinians.
The senator spearheaded a bill in April to cut off U.S. aid to the PA in response to its formation of a unity government with the terror group Hamas.
Unlike the current piece of legislation, last year’s bill would have made U.S. aid contingent on the unity government explicitly recognizing Israel’s right to exist.
Doug Stafford, a senior Paul adviser, told the Free Beacon that the United States has no business funding “an anti-Israel propaganda trial” at the ICC.
“The Palestinian Authority received well over $400 million last year to peacefully interact with Israel,” Stafford said. “Currently, the Palestinian Authority is trying to join the anti-American International Criminal Court and they are claiming war crimes by Israeli soldiers. Senator Rand Paul does not think American tax dollars should be used to fund an anti-Israel propaganda trial.”
While it is unclear if the Obama administration will back Paul’s bill, State Department officials have said that they are reviewing possible action.
“We’re deeply troubled by the Palestinian action,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Monday.
The Palestinian’s ICC bid “is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state,” Psaki said. “It badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”
Meanwhile, Israel froze around $127 million in tax revenue to the PA as a result of its bid to join the ICC, according to reports.
The move was quickly condemned by Psaki, who said the Obama administration is “trying to avoid” a “back and forth tit-for-tat” situation.