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Palestinians Say They Didn't Agree to Stop Paying Terrorists

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Photo, AP

JERUSALEM, Israel – U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Palestinian Authority had agreed to stop paying monthly stipends to convicts serving time for murder and other terror-related crimes. The following day, he told the House Foreign Relations Committee the P.A. was "in the process" of changing the practice.

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Tillerson said he conveyed President Trump's opposition to paying terrorists and had been assured of the pending policy change in closed-door meetings with P.A. officials in Bethlehem. The P.A., in turn, denied agreeing to any such thing.

One P.A. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said their discussions centered on changing the wording, not ending the payments, Israel Hayom reported. For example, he said, they might stop referring to the prisoners as shahids (martyrs), a term meant to honor them and their families.

Israel says the payments provide incitement to terror.

A recent analysis by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), explains how the process works.

Kupperwasser, who heads the JCPA's Project on Regional Middle East Developments, served as director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence.

According to the report, $300 million in annual payments to prisoners provide undeniable evidence of the Palestinian Authority's "commitment to sponsoring terror against Israel."

Meanwhile, the Knesset is poised to pass legislation slashing 1 billion shekels (about $285 million) from tax revenues Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority, close to the P.A.'s annual outlay to convicts and their families, the Times of Israel reported.

The report quotes former P.A. minister Qaddura Fares, who called the pending legislation "piracy of the Palestinian people's money," alleging it "strongly contradicts" international law and is designed "to stigmatize the Palestinian struggle with terrorism and to conflate the issues of the so-called war on terror with the Palestinian martyrs and prisoners who fought for freedom."

Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners Club, predicted the payments would not stop.

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