“I have sent also unto you all My servants the Neviim, sending them betimes and often, saying: Return ye now every man from his evil way, and amend your doings.” Jeremiah 35:15 (The Israel Bible™)
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Tuesday the Palestinian Authority (PA) will no longer pursue its policy of paying the families of convicted terrorists, as a result of pressure from the Trump administration. However, Jerusalem expressed skepticism, saying Israel has not detected any change in the PA’s practice.
“[The Palestinians] 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,” Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Tillerson said the policy reversal came as a result of pressure applied during President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the Middle East, which included a meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as a meeting earlier in May during Abbas’s visit to the White House.
“[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 regarding the terror payments.
Reacting to Tillerson’s remarks, American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris said, “Creating monetary incentives for terrorists is a key factor impeding the peace process and nurturing a Palestinian culture of violence and hatred. If a firm U.S. stance actually leads to the end of this outrageous practice, as Secretary Tillerson said will be the case, AJC would be the first to applaud.”
But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and another senior official said that they have not seen “any indication” that the PA has stopped or intends to stop payments to terrorists and their families, expressing skepticism over Tillerson’s declaration.
“Israel is unaware of any change of Palestinian policy,” said the second official.
U.S. lawmakers have pressed the Trump administration to end the PA’s policy of paying terrorists’ families. In February, Republican U.S. senators introduced the Taylor Force Act, which seeks to cut funding to the PA over its payments to convicted terrorists and their families.