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Israel says Palestinian Authority has not halted payments to terrorists

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met in Washington last month to discuss the moribund Middle East peace process
NICHOLAS KAMM (AFP)
First Israeli reaction to Secretary of State's claim that Abbas agreed to kill the financial benefits

Israel on Wednesday poured cold water on the US Secretary of State's announcement that the Palestinian Authority has agreed to stop providing financial support to the families of convicted terrorists.

"I have not seen any sign that the Palestinian Authority has stopped, or intends to stop, payments to terrorists and families of terrorists," Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman told Israeli public radio on Wednesday morning.

An unnamed Israeli official also made similar comments to the Walla! news website, saying: "we are not aware of any change in Palestinian policy, which is to continue to pay Palestinian terrorists." Haaretz newspaper published a similar statement, also attributed to an unnamed Israeli source.

"The Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite to and encourage terror through financial support," the quoted official added.

At a Senate hearing on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that he had discussed the issue directly with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House last month.

"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,” Tillerson said. “We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us."

The Palestinian Authority, the governing body of the West Bank territories, has long been accused of funneling funds to imprisoned terrorists and their families in salary payments.

On Tuesday, a former Palestinian minister and current member of the Fatah Central Committee, Hussein Al-Sheikh told an interviewer that the Palestinian Authority would not halt payments to terrorists or their families and that the issue was "not under discussion by any party whatsoever."

"All the American and other parties talked to Mahmoud Abbas about this, and his response was decisive," said Al-Sheikh, according to a translation of a TV interview distributed by the media monitoring organization MEMRI. "We said that this issue [payments] was not up for discussion at all, and that this has been our duty toward the prisoners and the martyrs since 1965."

Ahead of President Trump’s visit to Israel and the West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Palestinian Authority to stop funding terrorists to “prove” they want peace.

He stated that they are giving hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis to terrorists and the families of terrorists responsible for murdering Israelis and Americans.

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All foreign aid to the palistinians, as well de tax money Israel turns over to them should be completely ended until the palistinians stop teaching hate, bigotry and terrorism.

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