Abbas defiantly vows to continue PA terror payments policy
September 8, 2017
A leading Palestinian newspaper published an account on Monday of a tense encounter between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner in Ramallah last week.
Al-Quds, a Jerusalem-based newspaper that is close to the PA, reported that Kushner had raised the issue of the so-called "martyr payments" made to convicted terrorists and their families-a policy dubbed "pay to slay" that costs the PA more than $300 million annually. The Taylor Force Act, which is likely to be voted on during the upcoming session of the US Congress, would make American aid to the PA contingent on a wholesale abandonment of the "martyr payments."
Gal Berger, a leading Israeli journalist who covers Palestinian affairs, was quoted in theAl-Quds piece as saying that "Abbas informed Kushner that he would never stop paying these salaries until his dying day, even if this cost him the presidency."
Added Berger-in a translation of the Al Quds article made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)-"Abbas's statements reflect a measure of the Palestinian anger over the focus of the US delegation on this topic and its disregard of core issues such as the two-state solution and the halting of the settlements."
During the same meeting, Abbas was reportedly infuriated by Kushner's refusal "to define the borders on the Palestinian state as the 1967 borders, but said that this would be a matter to be agreed upon by the Israeli and Palestinian sides." On the two-state solution specifically, Kushner was said to have shown "some openness" on the matter.
According to Berger, Abbas reiterated his desire for the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative-which calls for a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem - to be used as the basis for any future negotiations with the Israeli government. If attempts to restart talks fail, Berger continued, Abbas was likely to lobby the UN Security Council for increased pressure upon Israel, as well as seeking the admission of an independent State of Palestine as a full UN member.
Following his meeting with Kushner, Abbas issued a statement through the PA's Facebook page underlining his unwavering support for the payments to terrorists. "I will never stop [paying] the allowances to the families of the prisoners and released prisoners, even if this costs me my position and my presidency," the PA president said. "I will pay them until my dying day."