Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: LOIC VENANCE / AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that if the Palestinians truly desire peace with Israel, they must first “come clean” and put an end to “rewarding terrorism.”
During an interview with Fox News television host Sean Hannity, Netanyahu claimed that the Palestinian Authority, lead by Mahmoud Abbas, has spent much of the financial aid they receive on paying terrorists and their families at the expense of the American taxpayer.
“I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying it terrorists,’” Netanyahu said via video link from his office in Jerusalem.
“It could be more than a billion dollars that is given to terrorists,” Netanyahu continued. “I’m not talking about Hamas. I’m talking about the mainline Palestinian Authority headed by the president, who is going to see [US President Donald] Trump in Washington.”
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A high-level Palestinian delegation is scheduled to travel to Washington next week to prepare for Abbas’s meeting with Trump, scheduled for May 3.
Netanyahu’s comments came just a day after Abbas granted an interview to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, saying “I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump.”
Netanyahu, however, currently has no plans to visit Washington next month.
Since the mid-1990s, the United States has donated more than $5 billion "in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance to the Palestinians," with $327.6 million coming in aid last year, according to the US Congressional Research Service, a public policy research arm of the United States Congress.
It is unclear how much of that aid has been used to make payments to terrorists, but according to the official daily newspaper of the Palestinian National Authority, Al-Hayat al-Jadida
, over 4,500 Palestinian prisoners receive a monthly salary between NIS 2,400 ($652) to NIS 12,000 ($3260) since 2011. Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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