A Palestinian Authority (PA) official labelled US President Donald Trump’s request for the PA to stop providing payments and other benefits to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons as “mad”, during an interview with Israel Radio on Thursday.
Nabil Shaath, foreign affairs adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, called the request “absurd” and equated the salaries to the families of terrorists as being the same as “asking Israel to stop paying its soldiers”.
The official additionally said that the Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel, including those who have been convicted for terror offences, were victims of Israel’s control over the West Bank, and that the demand would “destroy any chance for a peace process”.
Last week, Channel 2 news quoted PA prisoner affairs minister Issa Qaraqe as stating that President Abbas “outright rejects” Israel’s demand to halt payments to terrorists in prison.
Mr Shaath’s comments come after PA President Abbas visited the US on Wednesday for his first official meeting with President Trump. During a joint statement after their meeting, Mr Trump addressed Palestinian violence, saying that there could be “no lasting peace unless the Palestinian leaders speak in a unified voice against incitement to violence and hate”.
An official White House press statement released after the meeting read: “President Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasised the need to resolve this issue”.
Following Wednesday’s meeting, Israel’s Prime Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed the Jewish State’s comittment to peace, stating that he “fervently shares” America’s message. Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “I hope that it’s possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace. This is something Israel is always ready for”.
6,500 Palestinians are currently imprisoned in Israel for terror offences. The UK and several other countries, including the US and Israel, have condemned the PA’s policy of paying salaries to terrorist prisoners.