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Ending payments to prisoners not precondition for peace talks, Palestinians say

US President Donald Trump and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas give a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017
Thomas COEX (AFP)
Abbas said to refuse watered-down request to end payments to 600 prisoners jailed for the most serious crimes

While the United States is pressuring the Palestinian Authority government to end its practice of providing financial stipends to prisoners in Israeli jails, the matter has reportedly not been set forth as a precondition to restarting peace negotiations with Israel.

Unnamed Palestinian officials told Israel Radio on Saturday that the Palestinians have staunchly rejected the US demand, but that their refusal is not likely to prevent anticipated US-brokered negotiations with Israel from moving forward.

The Palestinian Authority's payments to jailed security prisoners and their families was reportedly a central matter of discussion during a meeting in Ramallah earlier this week between Palestinian and US delegations that included President Mahmoud Abbas and Jared Kushner, a chief adviser to President Donald Trump, and US envoy Jason Greenblatt.

While Abbas attempted to lay out the Palestinians' vision for a future state the Americans reportedly kept returning to the issue of the stipends.

(photo credit:AFP/Yasser al-Zayyat)

Abbas reportedly refused a watered-down request by the US to end payments to some 600 prisoners serving life sentences for serious crimes and terror attacks that claimed the lives of Israelis.

Originally, the US had demanded that the practice be suspended altogether.

But Abbas asserted that the issue of financial support to prisoners and their families is an "internal Palestinian issue."

Palestinian sources quoted in both Hebrew and Arabic media reports described the meeting between the Palestinian and US delegations, which included Abbas, Kushner, as tense and unsuccessful.

"They sounded like Netanyahu’s advisers and not as honest mediators," a Palestinian source told the Haaretz daily, complaining that while the US delegation had clearly taken the Israeli stance with regards to incitement, Palestinian concerns about settlements went unanswered.

Israeli PMO

Sources cited by the Hebrew-language Ynet media outlet said that the US delegation presented Israeli demands, but there was no dialogue about restarting bilateral negotiations or the possibility of a joint-summit between Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump.

Abbas has defended payments made to prisoners in Israeli jails as an important function of his government, calling them "a social responsibility" to the families of incarcerated Palestinians.

Trump repeatedly criticized the practice, however, saying after a meeting with the Palestinian President in Bethlehem last month that terrorism must not be "rewarded".

Trump also raised the issue in an earlier meeting with the Palestinian President at the White House last month.

See also:

Trump yelled at Abbas in meeting for 'lying about commitment to peace': report

Palestinians paid terrorists $1bn over past 4 years, ex-intelligence chief says



How easy is to spemericsn taxpayers ,suppostly for charity for the Palestinians, guiven to support criminals?. Well they dese rve to guet it under the belt, NO MORE US money for this " shmuck"

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