White House Pressured to Confront Abbas Over Prisoner Payments

Families of victims killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are pressuring President Trump to confront Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas over payments to prisoners that some view as backdoor funding of terrorism.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) provides monetary support to prisoners and the families of prisoners, which critics say is a way of incentivizing and rewarding terrorist attacks.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus obtained by The Hill, lawyers at the Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center urged Trump to “demand from Mr. Abbas an immediate end to of the PA’s policy of paying stipends to terrorists” during Abbas’s visit to the Oval Office on Wednesday.

“No civilized nation should pay stipends to loathsome criminals who deliberately target innocent victims, including sleeping children,” the families’ attorneys wrote to the White House.

“Yet the United States is the largest provider of foreign aid to the PA. The foreign aid received from the US frees up other PA assets to pay these terrorist stipends. Since money is fungible, US foreign aid to the PA in effect subsidizes the PA terrorist stipends. We submit that subsidizing terrorist stipends is contrary to the principles that President Trump stands for.”

“Mr. Abbas’ has stated publicly that he intends to discuss the issue of Palestinian statehood with President Trump. Our clients find such a request incongruous, to say the least, coming from a leader who blatantly subsidizes terrorism, glorifies and rewards the perpetrators of heinous acts of terrorism, and thereby displays such disdain for the rule of law,” the letter continues.

“On behalf our clients, we respectfully request that President Trump demand from Mr. Abbas an immediate end to of the PA’s policy of paying stipends to terrorists.”

Shurat HaDin Israel’s clients include the family of slain combat veteran Taylor Force, a West Point graduate who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian in a terrorist attack in Israel last year.

A group of Republican senators introduced The Taylor Force Act last year, which would seek to ensure that U.S. funds to Palestine don’t go to “any individual who has been imprisoned after being convicted of terrorist acts, to any individual who died committing a terrorist act, or to family members of such individuals.”

Some want the U.S. to cut off all aid to the PA until the policy changes.

The full letter can be read here.

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