Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Fox News' Sean Hannity that the Palestinian Authority must prove its commitment to peace by freezing the flow of funds to Palestinian prisoners being held in Israel and the families of terrorists. Netanyahu did not say whether the demand to stop funding for terrorists is a precondition for the renewal of peace negotiations.
Netanyahu added in the interview that the Palestinians must "pass the test of peace." He said the Palestinian Authority needs to confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism and stop paying terrorists.
"And don't finagle the books," Netanyahu said. "What they do is 'OK, we won't pay directly, we'll pay it to somebody else and they'll pay it to the terrorists' in a sort of circular fashion. The Palestinian must come clean and stop paying terrorists."
Netanyahu further said in the interview that a narrative exists in the international community according to which he doesn’t want peace and Israel does not want peace. Netanyahu stressed that the opposite was true, adding that the international community needs to shift its focus onto the Palestinians and demand they take responsibility for their actions.
He also commented on Iran and said he thinks the U.S. administration should "repeal or replace" the nuclear deal reached with Iran. According to Netanyahu, Iran currently enjoys "the best of both worlds" because it faces no pressure to change its negative regional behavior.
On Friday, Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Prior to the meeting Netanyahu said that he sees a "great change" in the direction of U.S. policy in the Middle East, lauding Mattis and President Donald Trump's recent statements on Iran as well as U.S. action against Syria's use of chemical weapons. "It's appreciated around the world and in our region," Netanyahu said, according to a press release.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said this week that he is prepared to hold a trilateral meeting with Trump and Netanyahu. The White House announced Wednesday that Trump will be meeting Abbas in Washington on May 3. Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that in their meeting, Trump and Abbas would discuss ways to restart the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
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