Israel, Palestinians reject US claim that PA stopped funding terror

Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority say Tillerson’s claim that the PA has changed its policy and will stop funding terror is unfounded. 

An Israeli diplomatic official on Wednesday rejected assertions made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the previous day that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has ceased its long-held practice of financially supporting and rewarding terrorists and their families.

“Israel is not aware of any such change in the Palestinian policy, which is to continue to pay the families of terrorists,” the official said according to Israeli media. The official went on to emphasize that “the Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite and encourage terrorism with these payments.”

Later on Monday, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) confirmed that Secretary Tillerson was mistaken.

“(Abbas) told me that he will not give up on the prisoners and the families,” the PLO’s Commission for Prisoners Chairman Essa Qaraqaa told the Jerusalem Post. “He said he will continue the payments.”

While testifying in front of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting on the US State Department’s budget, Tillerson claimed that the PA abandoned the policy of finance for terror, stating:

“They have changed their policy – at least I have been informed they’ve changed that policy – and they are, their intent is to cease the payments to the family members of those who have committed murder or violence against others.”

“We have been very clear with them that this [practice of paying terrorists] is simply not acceptable to us,” he added.

It was reported in April that despite a number of proposed cuts in Trump’s budget to the US State Department, Palestinians would receive $215 million, amounting to an increase of 4.6% in foreign aid. Nevertheless, the Trump administration has expressed its displeasure of continued financial rewards from the PA for terrorist activity.

“I told (Mahmoud Abbas), you absolutely must stop making payments to family members of, quote, ‘martyrs,’” Tillerson said, referencing a meeting with the PA Chairman during his visit in Washington, DC last month.

The White House added at the time, “President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue.”

During his visit to Israel, Trump implicitly condemned the PA’s policy at a joint press conference with Abbas in Bethlehem, in which he said,“peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”

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 By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News