UPDATE: “The President raised concerns about the payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed acts of terror, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the White House press corps during his May 3rd briefing.
No report yet on how Mr. Abbas responded.
- Remarks by President Trump and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority in Joint Statement (White House)
- Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 5/3/2017, #44 (White House)
ORIGINAL POST: (Jerusalem, Israel) — Today, President Trump will meet with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and his top advisors at the White House.
Good. The Palestinian people continue to struggle with immense poverty, unemployment, corruption, and a culture of terrorism and radicalism. They need friends in government, the church and the private sector who will show them honor and compassion. They also need friends who will “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)
Today’s gathering is the latest in a series of meetings Mr. Trump is having with the leaders of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. I applaud him for building these relationships and strengthening vital alliances.
In this context, it is critical that Mr. Trump uses today’s meeting to tell Mr. Abbas in no uncertain terms that the PA must stop paying Palestinian terrorists who injure and kill Americans and Israelis, and paying their families.
Indeed, Mr. Trump should tell Mr. Abbas that Congress will pass — and he will sign — the “Taylor Force Act,” legislation that specifically forbids the PA from rewarding Palestinian terrorists, and prevents the U.S. from providing foreign aid to the PA if they continue funding terrorism.
A report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, an Israel-based research center run by former Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Dore Gold, found that “overall, the PA pays about 1.152 billion shekels ($303 million) in the 2016 budget as terror-related salaries and allowances. This equals about seven percent of the overall budget.”
“The PA payment of salaries to the imprisoned terrorists and to the families of the dead terrorists is anchored in a series of Palestinian laws and government decrees, chiefly Laws No. 14 and No. 19 of 2004, and Law No. 1 of 2013,” noted the report.
It is impossible to move forward with any kind of peace process if the Palestinian government is paying more than $300 million a year to reward terrorists and their families. The Israeli government has called for an immediate repeal of this PA law and practice. The U.S. and other Arab governments should do so, as well, in order to truly move the prospects for real and lasting peace forward.
“I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying it terrorists,’” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu recently said during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News.
Unfortunately, a senior PA cabinet minister says the PA will continue to pay incarcerated terrorists.
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ‘outright rejects’ Israeli demands to halt payments to prisoners held by Israel, Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe said Saturday,” reported the Times of Israel.
This is unacceptable. The Palestinian people have it hard enough. They need better leadership than this. The Palestinian government should be nurturing an environment to create jobs and economic growth, not terrorism.
Let us pray — and press — for real change. Starting now.
For more reading on this important topic:
- Incentivizing Terrorism: Palestinian Authority Allocations to Terrorists and their Families (JCPA study)
- Abbas will continue to pay Palestinian prisoners, PA minister says (Times of Israel)
- Bill in Congress would pressure Palestinian gov’t to cut off terror-tied payments (Fox News)
- Cotton, Colleagues Reintroduce the Taylor Force Act
- Senators Introduce Legislation to Cut Off Funding for Palestinian Terror Attacks
- PA salaries to terrorists and their families (Palestinian Media Watch)
[Note: These comments are made in my personal capacity as a US-Israeli citizen and author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-profit organization that takes no position on legislative issues.]
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