Since the mid-1990’s when limited self-rule was established in the West Bank and Gaza, the United States has contributed more than $5 billion in economic and non-lethal security assistance to the Palestinians. Under President Donald Trump, that assistance is slated to continue. The goal of such assistance is to help meet the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people and foster the conditions of stability and prosperity that could lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
But as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made clear, the United States is looking for a change in the long-standing policy of the Palestinian Authority to make payments to the families of terrorists killed or wounded in carrying out violent attacks against Israelis.
In testimony before Congress, Mr. Tillerson said both he and President Trump raised the issue with Palestinian Authority President Mahmood Abbas during their May visit to Bethlehem.
Although the Palestinian Authority announced last month that it was stopping payments to some Hamas-affiliated prisoners, that move fails to address the scope of U.S. concerns over the practice of rewarding terrorists and murderers – which has continued.
As President Trump said, standing in Bethlehem next to President Abbas, “Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded or rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice.”