YERUSHALAYIM - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated in a Senate hearing on Tuesday that the Palestinian Authority policy of paying imprisoned terrorists and their families has come to an end.
“They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others. We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us,” Tillerson said.
The statement was made in response to a question from Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) on the subject during a session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department’s budget.
Tillerson said that the issue “was discussed directly with [PA] President Abbas when he made his visit to Washington” in May.
“The president [Trump] raised it, and I had a bilateral meeting with [Abbas] later and I told him – you absolutely have to stop this,” Tillerson said.
Mr. Trump met a second time with Mr. Abbas, in Beit Lechem on May 23, and was again stern on the issue: “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded.”
However, whatever assurances Abbas has given Washington, in Israel the situation has not changed yet.
Last week, after payments to Hamas prisoners were a day late, it was thought that this might be in response to pressure from the Trump administration. But no explanation was forthcoming from the PA about the money, and the next day it was deposited in their accounts as usual. Subsequently, a Hamas official attributed it to a “technical delay.”