Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS/FILE PHOTO)
WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday said the Palestinian Authority "intends" to end its compensation scheme for the families of assailants convicted by Israel of murder and terror, testifying before a Senate panel.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the policy, which the Israeli government has characterized as inhumane and an impediment to peace. The PA says that the program supports the families of legitimate combatants.
"They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence," Tillerson said. "We have been very clear to them that this is simply not acceptable to us. It is certainly not acceptable to the American people."
Republican members of Congress are weighing legislation that would compel the PA to end the policy, or else face an aid severance. A similarly punishing bill is making its way through the Knesset.
Essa Qaraqaa, the PA head of the prisoners' commissioner, said they are planning to pay salaries despite the proposed Knesset legislation. And a State Department official emphasized the secretary used the word "intent," implying the policy has yet to change.Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.