Published: Fri, June 16, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Rex Tillerson: Palestinian Authority ends policy of paying prisoners who attack Israelis

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday Russia seems to be shifting its position toward backing efforts to put more pressure on North Korea, amid worldwide efforts to pressure the reclusive country to curb its nuclear ambitions.

"The world has changed".

Since Congress established the position with a 2004 law, the role of the envoy has been to train career State Department officers and diplomats in identifying and combating anti-Semitism and to encourage embassies and bureaus to more closely monitor anti-Semitism. The envoy trains State Department officials to identify and fight anti-Semitism while posted overseas, a position previously described by the Anti-Defamation League's CEO Jonathan Greenblatt as the "strongest possible signal to our allies and to the world that fighting anti-Semitism is a fixture of American foreign policy".

"I take a completely counter view to the way you've interpreted to the president's actions and what the administration has had underway", Tillerson told Connecticut Sen.

Tillerson said he was given assurances by senior Palestinian during his recent trip to the Middle East. "And by having a special envoy, one of my experiences is, mission then says, 'oh, we've got somebody else that does, ' and then they stop doing it". We're not going to set the burden down.

Tillerson was responding to Representative Eliot Engel, the committee's ranking Democrat, who asked if it was in the USA interest to relax sanctions on Russian Federation before it fully complied.

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Tillerson was challenged by Rep. Ted Deutch (D., Fla.) to explain his Tuesday remarks claiming that the Palestinians had ceased their payments to terrorists.

The US policy of greater economic openness was providing financial support to a "very oppressive regime" in Cuba. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CNN he met with his staff Monday to discuss the budget, saying "After about five minutes, I said, 'This is a total waste of time.' The budget that's being presented is not going to be the budget we deal with".

Tillerson explained that North Korea will be high on the list of his priorities when he meets with Chinese leaders next week. He had been held for 17 months for trying to steal a propaganda poster while on a trip to the country.

The issue of compensation has become a sticking point in efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with Israeli officials citing it as one reason they do not regard Abbas as a "partner for peace".

"We will continue this dialogue with them", Tillerson told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"This is really just the wrong message", said Sen.

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While the Trump administration plans to increase the Pentagon's budget by about 10 percent, that boost comes along with significant cuts at the State Department.

The officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, said Wednesday that they have not seen a change in the P.A. policy.

Under sometimes caustic questioning, Tillerson said he is overseeing a modest shrinking of the State Department workforce and a rethinking of how the department does business. The proposal would cut the diplomatic and development budget from $54.9 billion to $37.6 billion. It is still a sharp drop from 2016 spending.

"... Senators repeatedly asked whether issues such as the promotion of human rights, the protection of democracy, the campaign against human trafficking, or efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons were priorities for the administration". But he acknowledged some countries have had support withdrawn, which he characterized as "some of the hard choices we've mentioned in terms of where we put our dollars".

The budget would eliminate funding for the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, as part of a $780 million cut to worldwide organizations. The only money earmarked for the two would be for closeout costs such as severance pay.

Graham also noted that cutting funds for embassies is part of the administration's budget blueprint, adding, "We all remember Benghazi".

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Tillerson elaborated on how some of the funding changes would affect US foreign policy. "And that has been reconfirmed by the President, to me, on multiple occasions".

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