Trump urged to press Abbas against backing terrorists’ families

by WorldTribune Staff, May 3, 2017

A group of Republican senators are urging President Donald Trump to demand that Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas stop paying Palestinian terrorists and their families.

In a letter to the president, a delegation of senators led Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, call on Trump to lay down a marker at a May 3 meeting with Abbas.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. / Reuters

A copy of the letter was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The PA, which receives millions in funding from U.S. taxpayers, spends roughly 8 percent of its annual budget, some $300 million a year, on salaries for terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel as well as the families of terrorists who attacked the Jewish state, noted the Free Beacon.

“Far from being an information practice, these payments are codified in Palestinian Authority law,” the senators wrote to Trump. “If these facts seem hard to believe, it is because for many years they were obscured by an administration that found them inconvenient to the narrative it sought to promote.

“The United States cannot treat the Palestinian Authority as a partner for peace, or take seriously president Abbas’s claimed desire for peace, so long as the PA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year funding and incentivizing terror,” the letter states.

The senators also asked Trump to publicly express support for the Taylor Force Act, new legislation that would cut U.S. funding to the PA until payments to terrorists cease.

Abbas has openly admitted that the PA pays salaries to terrorists.

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Trump to pressure Abbas to stop encouraging terrorism by sending payments to jailed terrorists and their families.

A PA official later stressed that Abbas “completely rejects” Netanyahu’s call and added that the PA was fully supportive of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli jails, Israel’s Arutz Sheva reported on May 3.

The Republican senators urged Trump to reverse a long-time Obama administration policy that sought to downplay the PA’s support for terrorism and put the onus for peace directly on Israel.

“One of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration’s handling of this issue was the double standard applied to the two parties,” the lawmakers write to Trump, according to the Free Beacon. “This double standard saw Israel criticized and condemned regularly, while the Palestinian Authority and its leadership were rarely, if ever, held accountable.

“This unwillingness to speak out when the PA rewarded and glorified terrorism left many with the mistaken impression that the PA was earnestly seeking peace – and that Israel was the impediment.”