After Kushner-Abbas Meeting, Issue of Payments to Palestinian Terrorists' Families Remains Unresolved

Senior Palestinian officials told Haaretz that the Palestinian leadership was greatly disappointed by the meeting

A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) on June 21, 2017, shows Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) US President's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner (L) in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
THAER GHANAIM/AFP

President Donald Trump's senior advisor Jared Kushner and envoy for peace talks Jason Greenblatt raised the issue of payments made to terrorists in prison and to the families of dead terrorists as well as the issue of incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority during their meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday.

Senior Palestinian and American officials who are informed with the details of the meeting stated that no agreement was reached on the matter, that the dispute is still as it was, and that the sides decided to continue discussing the matter in the future.

Senior Palestinian officials stated after their meeting with Kushner and Greenblatt that the Palestinian leadership was greatly disappointed. According to them,  Kushner and Greenblatt, who came from a meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, raised in the beginning of the meeting Israel's complaints over the payments and the incitement. "They sounded like Netanyahu's advisers and not like fair arbiters," a senior Palestinian official said.  "They started presenting Netanyahu's issues and then we asked to hear from them clear stances regarding the core issues of the conflict."

According to the senior Palestinian official, in response to the American team's statements concerning the payments and incitement, Abbas asked for clarifications regarding the White House's stance on settlement construction. "We told them that that same day, Netanyahu's government began the construction of a new settlement and is talking about building thousands of new housing units," the Palestinian official said. "Abbas asked them what their position is on the subject but received no answer." According to the official the matter of the payments made to terrorists was discussed in the preparation meeting between Greenblatt and Abbas's adviser Tuesday. The Palestinian president's adviser said that this was an internal Palestinian matter.

Senior American officials stated that the matter was in fact discussed during the meeting but that it didn't cast a shadow on the meeting, which they said was positive and helpful. They added that as was stated in the White House press release that was issued after the meeting, most of the conversation revolved around the Palestinian's stances for the negotiations, their priorities and ideas for the next stage. The senior Palestinian officials confirmed this and said that Abbas presented the Palestinian Authority's positions vis-à-vis all core issues: borders, Jerusalem, the refugees, water, security and the release of prisoners. During the meeting Abbas even expressed his agreement to have inspectors and an international force present to monitor the implementation of each stage.

After the meetings that Kushner and Greenblatt held with Netanyahu and with Abbas the White House issued statements with similar wording.  The statements said that Netanyahu and Abbas "reaffirmed their commitment to advancing President Trump’s goal of a genuine and lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians that enhances stability in the region." According to the statements, in both the meeting between Kushner and Netanyahu and the meeting between Kushner and Abbas both sides stressed that achieving peace would take time and stated that everything that can be done to create an atmosphere of peacemaking should be done. The statement issued by the White House said that Kushner will present his conclusions from the visit to Trump and to other senior members of the administration as part of a discussion in which the next steps in the peace process will be decided.