Tillerson Waffles on Palestinian Terror-Money

YERUSHALAYIM -
Tillerson PA
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s claim that the Palestinian Authority had ended its policy of paying terrorists was met with incredulity in Israel, Tillerson offered a more modest version of events, telling the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the matter was under “active discussion” with the Palestinians.

Not only were Israeli officials adamant that the PA has no shown no sign of discontinuing its policy, but Issa Karaka, head of prisoner affairs for the Palestinian Authority, told Haaretz after Tillerson’s statement on Tuesday that no such decision could ever possibly be made, since it would spell the end of the PA with the Palestinian public.

Tillerson said in reply to a question from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that discussion about supporting and inciting was an important part of a larger dialogue between the Trump administration and the PA on terrorism and the peace process.

Yet, a short while later in the session, Tillerson appeared to revert to his position of the previous day, telling the congressional panel that assurances from the Palestinian leadership on this issue “were given to me during the President’s visit to Bethlehem.”

His statements reportedly left members of Congress uncertain as to the exact status of these payments.

Tillerson added that Trump told the Palestinians he has a “certain window of patience” on this issue, and that if it takes too long, he will lose interest, which could adversely affect the level of American support for the Palestinian Authority.