US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a joint news conference with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman, Jordan, April 30, 2018..
(photo credit: MUHAMMAD HAMED / REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The State Department on Wednesday denied a $165 million transfer of aid to the Palestinian Authority over its failure to adhere to the Taylor Force Act, a law that bars the government from continuing aid to the PA unless Ramallah ceases its practice of compensating the families of murderers and terrorists convicted in Israel.
“I actually signed a memo today with respect to the Taylor Force Act, denying $165m. that would have been appropriated to the Palestinian Authority,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told an American-Jewish organization Wednesday evening, to applause, questioning whether Israel would have a partner at the negotiating table with Palestinians going forward.
“That number is a rough estimate of the amount of money that was paid out on – for the various violations the Taylor Force Act was designed to enforce,” Pompeo said. “The behavior has not changed materially, and this administration has taken – much as it did with the [Jerusalem] embassy – has taken a historic approach.”
Pompeo’s move to withhold the aid came as the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Georgetown shuttered its doors – another order from the Trump administration, which accused the Palestinians of failing to engage in the sort of serious diplomatic effort with Israel that had justified the office opening in the first place.
The secretary also teased the Trump administration’s upcoming peace plan
as a “truly historic” effort to broker an agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, accepting an award from the Jewish Institute for National Security of America in Washington.
Speaking at the Grand Hyatt downtown, with senators and diplomats in the audience, Pompeo hinted at a plan that would offer the Palestinians a state – a word only recently introduced into US President Donald Trump’s lexicon, when he endorsed a two-state solution
to the storied conflict last month.
“We are making a truly historic push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” Pompeo told the crowd. The peace plan – designed by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, over the course of nearly two years – will be released “before too terribly long, and we are hopeful that both sides will have constructive conversations to lead to that.
Some UNRWA foreign staff members leave Gaza for safety reasons, October 2, 2018 (Reuters)
“We very much want you to have a space, [but] you need to govern, you need to decide you want peace as well. We said the same thing to the Palestinians both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” Pompeo said. “We are very hopeful that one day the Palestinian people will have the same kinds of things, the same material, the same opportunities that the people of Israel have, right? A real economy, a real governance, all the things that we want for every citizen of the world.”
A Related Video You May Like:
Much of his comments on Middle East peace came in a question-and-answer session, but his prepared remarks focused on the president’s “maximum pressure” campaign on the Iranian government.
“For the previous eight years, we had an administration that had more respect for the leaders of Iran than it did for the State of Israel,” Pompeo said.
He said that the administration was introducing a new condition in Geneva-based talks on the settlement of Syria’s seven-year-old civil war: The removal of all Iranian
and Iranian-backed forces from Syria.
“The onus of expelling Iran from Syria is on the Syrian regime,” Pompeo said. Without this condition met, he continued, “it will not receive one single dollar from the United States for reconstruction.”
Pompeo listed, among the administration’s accomplishments, its fight against “antisemitism” at the UN, including at the Human Rights Council.
The secretary also said he had spoken with Netanyahu earlier in the today, although he did not specify the topic.
In the audience was Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, who sat at the same dinner table as Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ envoy to the US. The two are said to have a strong personal relationship despite their nations maintaining no formal ties.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>