Senators to Trump: Tell Abbas, Palestinians Payments to Terrorists Must Stop

Mahmoud Abbas / Getty Images

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, May 2, 2017:

A delegation of leading Republican senators is urging President Donald Trump to demand that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas end his government’s longtime practice of paying terrorists and their families for attacks committed against Israel, according to a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and sent Tuesday to the White House.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) are urging Trump to lay down a marker when he hosts Abbas later this week for a round of meetings on the Middle East peace process.

The lawmakers are pushing Trump to reverse a years-long policy under the former Obama administration that sought to downplay the Palestinian Authority’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. “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 pace—and that Israel was the impediment,” the lawmakers write.

The PA, which receives millions in funding from U.S. taxpayers, spends roughly $300 million a year—or eight percent of its total budget—on salaries for Palestinian terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel for their crimes as well as the families of terrorists who attacked the Jewish state.

“Far from being an information practice, these payments are codified in Palestinian Authority law,” the lawmakers write. “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.”

Trump must take bold action and demand that Abbas end these payments immediately. The president should also make clear that continuation of this practice will force the United States to publicly blame Abbas for stalling the peace process, according to the senators.

“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 lawmakers additionally ask Trump to publicly express support for the Taylor Force Act, a new piece of legislation that would cut U.S. funding to the Palestinians until payments to terrorists cease.

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