US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicated that the Palestinian Authority (PA) is intending to terminate payments and benefits given to Palestinian terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prisons and their families, during a public hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.
The Secretary of State stated in regards to Ramallah’s policy of providing stipends to Palestinian terrorists and their families: “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”.
He added: “We have been very clear with them that this practice of paying terrorists is simply not acceptable to us”.
The US is currently considering legislation to cut funding to the Palestinians as long as the payouts to terrorists who have injured and killed civilians continues.
Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman rejected Mr Tillerson’s claim: “I have to say that I didn’t see any indication that the Palestinian Authority stopped or intends to stop payments to terrorists and terrorists’ families”.
An anonymous senior diplomatic official in Israel remarked that Palestinians were “continuing to pay families of terrorists” and that the Israel was “unaware of any change of Palestinian policy”.
The official continued: “The Palestinian Authority continues to glorify terrorists, to incite and to promote terror vis-à-vis these payments”.
According to PA law, Palestinian prisoners are entitled to receive funds and benefits. The PA has paid out £879.8 million over the past four years to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons and their families.
On Sunday, Israeli ministers approved a bill to cut funds to the PA over the amount in salaries paid out to convicted terrorists. The legislation would cut over £223 million from the annual tax revenues collected for the Palestinians, equating to the amount paid to Palestinian terrorists.
Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, who constructed the bill, warned: “The Palestinian Authority not only rewards murder but encourages it, and encourages murder over causing injury, and encourages many victims…That is something that we must stop…it is a barrier to peace…for how can you make peace with those who encourage murder”.
The Middle East Media research institute estimates that the stipends paid to Palestinian terrorists by Ramallah reach as high as £2450 per month for terrorists convicted for a term of 30 years or more.