Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Tillerson: Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorists' families

Tillerson: Palestinian Authority to stop paying terrorists' families

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday he stood by the Trump administration's plans for steep cuts in the diplomatic and foreign aid budget, as critics charged that such reductions would ultimately be harmful to America.

"Regarding the reported commitment of the Palestinians to change their policy and to stop the payments, there is no confirmation to this intention", said the source, who would only speak on background. "We have been very clear to them that this is simply not acceptable to us".

The US Senate's bipartisan deal on new set of restrictive measures against Moscow might further worsen relations with Russia and hinder existing efforts on joint US-Russia progress to fight terrorism in Syria, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has warned.

Despite Trump budget's proposal to cut State Department funding by as much as 37 percent, Tillerson expressed confidence in the proposed budget.

Under questioning at a Senate hearing, Tillerson said Washington had pressed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on the issue of payments to the families of suicide bombers and attackers killed.

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Mr Tillerson offered tepid support for the sanctions measure, but urged Congress to make sure the sanctions legislation does not tie the president's hands and shut down promising avenues of communication between the two former Cold War foes.

He added later, "I think we're really leaning in to U.S. leadership" to illustrate "we're going to continue in this leadership role, but you, our allies, must do your share".

Issa Karake, Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, said the payments must continue and called them "a national, social and humanitarian duty". The fund for families of several thousand Palestinians held for alleged anti-Israeli activities, from stone-throwing to shooting attacks and bombings, had a 2016 budget of $125 million, according to the website of the Palestinian Authority's Finance Ministry.

"Almost every other household among the Palestinian people is the family of a prisoner or martyr", he told Haaretz.

Engel said the approach suggested by Tillerson would send the wrong signal to Russian Federation.

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Just after that May 3 meeting, Tillerson had a "more detailed" meeting with Abbas.

Many GOP leaders on Capitol Hill urged the United States president to push Abbas on the payments before that White House meeting.

In February, South Carolina Sen.

Tillerson added that Trump told the Palestinians he has a "certain window of patience" on this issue, and that if it takes too long, he will lose interest, which could adversely affect the level of American support for the Palestinian Authority.

Since then, Republicans have voiced a strong desire to see that policy changed in Ramallah.

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"I haven't seen any sign that the Palestinian Authority has stopped or plans to stop payments to terrorists or families of terrorists", said Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in an interview with Israel Radio.

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