Israel Rejects U.S. Claim That Palestinians to Stop Funding Terrorists' Families

Israeli official rejects claims by Tillerson that Palestinians have changed their policy of payments to terrorists as a result of pressure from Trump administration

U.S. President Donald Trump and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem May 23, 2017.
JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Israel on Wednesday rejected claims by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Palestinian Authority will freeze payments to the families of terrorists.

"We are not aware of any change in the Palestinian Authority's policy, and as far as we know they are still paying funds to terrorists' families," a senior Israeli official said.

"The Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite to and encourage terror through financial support," the official added.

>> Explained: The possible implications of cutting off payments to families of Palestinian terrorists <<

Tillerson said Tuesday that the PA has changed its policy of paying families of convicted terrorists, and intends to stop supporting them as a result of pressure from the Trump administration.

Tillerson made these comments during a public hearing on the State Department's budget in front of the Senate.

Secretary Rex Tillerson's remarks on the Palestinian Authority start at 1:22:30.

In reply to a question from Republican Sen. Jim Risch (Idaho) on these payments, Tillerson said the issue "was discussed directly with [Palestinian] President Abbas when he made his visit to Washington." Abbas was in the White House in early May and, according to Tillerson, President Trump discussed the controversial payments with him.

"The president [Trump] raised it, and I had a bilateral meeting with [Abbas] later and I told him, 'You absolutely have to stop this,'" Tillerson said.

He added that the Palestinians have in fact changed their policy: "They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others. We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us."