In Reassuring Senate Abbas Will Stop Terrorists' Pay Tillerson Ignores Legal Obstacles

Asked whether this statement signaled USA acceptance of PA payments to the wives and children of Palestinian terrorists if these were not described as "martyr payments", a senior State Department official told The Algemeiner, "We have repeatedly raised our concerns about payments to prisoners and martyrs with the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas, and we understand that they arelooking at ways to address this issue".

The official went on to emphasize that "the Palestinian Authority continues to praise, incite and encourage terrorism with these payments".

"There is no gap between the President and myself or the State Department on policy", he told Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) in response to questioning on Tuesday morning before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"We reject ending the subsidies to the prisoners and families of martyrs".

"They have changed their policy", Tillerson said, referring to the PA.

The officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, said Wednesday that they have not seen a change in the P.A. policy.

But within hours of Mr Tillerson's statement, both Israeli and Palestinian officials said he was wrong.

Israel collects tax and duty payments on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for imported goods that enter the country via Ashdod Port.

Tillerson told House lawmakers that Russian Federation should be held accountable for its alleged meddling in last year's USA presidential election campaign. "As of this moment I have seen no cessation and no intention to stop paying the terrorists' families".

On Wednesday, appearing at a House of Representatives hearing, Tillerson repeated his claim that he had received promises about the payments from the PA. He told senators that on his most recent trip to Bethlehem, the PA said the PLO would be revising their long-standing policy. "He said he will continue the payments".

The "martyr's fund" was set up in 1967 by the PLO, the group that formally represents all Palestinians. Tillerson said he'd replied by saying that's one thing, but that payments "as recognition of violence or murder" is unacceptable to Americans.

Israel, which argues that such stipends promote violence, stepped up a campaign against the fund after a wave of Palestinian attacks began in September 2015.

When Trump met with Abbas in Washington on May 3, the White House said the U.S. president brought up the issue with the Palestinian leader.