ZOA: PA’s Abbas Lied to Sec’y Tillerson – They Still Pay Arabs to Murder Jews
News Press Release
June 15, 2017

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

Palestinian Authority (“PA”) President Mahmoud Abbas has apparently lied to, misled and/or confused U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the PA’s ongoing payments to Palestinian terrorists and to the families of Palestinian terrorists who murder and maim Jews and others in stabbing, car ramming, shooting and bombing attacks (“pay to slay”).  After Sec’y Tillerson testified on Tuesday that Abbas had assured him that the PA intended to cease certain payments, PA officials confirmed that the PA, in fact, intends to continue its “pay to slay” payments, perhaps using another name.  Tough U.S. administration and Congressional action will be required to end these payments that incite and reward Palestinian terrorists for murdering Jews, Americans and others.  We must enact the Taylor Force law; insist that the PA Parliament formally rescind its law “requiring” paying Arabs to murder Jews; not permit the PA to continue the same payments via a third party or under another name (such as purported payments to “widows and orphans”); roll back the 5% increase to the PA in the White House’s FY 2018 budget proposal; and eliminate U.S. tax dollars going to the PA at least until the PA proves that it has ended “pay to slay” payments and its promotion of hatred and violence against Jews as the Arabs agreed to in the 23 year old Oslo Accords. 

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday (June 13), Senator James Risch (R-PA) noted that the PA forwards U.S. tax dollars to the PLO to pay suicide bombers, and stated on behalf of his Senate colleagues: “This is something that really galls on us.”  In response, Secretary Tillerson testified that Abbas has assured him that “They [the PA] have changed their policy, at least I have been informed they have changed that policy, and they are, their intent is to cease the payments to the family members of those who have committed murder or violence against others. (U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “Review of the FY 2018 State Dep’t Budget Request – video,” Testimony of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, June 13, 2017.)

Secretary Tillerson should not fall into the trap of enabling the PA to continue its same payments by simply re-naming the terrorism rewards as ‘payments to orphans and widows’.

PA officials promptly contradicted Tillerson, and declared that the PA will continue its payments that reward the murderers of Jews and Americans.  Reuters reported that PA “officials say there are no plans to stop payments,” and quoted an unnamed PA official who said that “There have been talks about making the payments in a different way, but not ending them. . . They could perhaps be labeled differently.”  (“Despite Tillerson Reassurance, Palestinians Not Stopping “Martyr” Payments,” by Ali Sawafta, Reuters, June 14, 2017.)

PLO Prisoners Affairs Commission Director Issa Karake also emphasized, “in response to Secretary Tillerson’s statements about stopping the allowances,” that “the Palestinian leadership will not submit to any pressure,” and stated that aid to the families of the prisoners and martyrs [the PA’s euphemism for murderers of Jews] “is a national, moral, and human responsibility.” (Sawa, independent Palestinian news agency, June 14, 2017, translated in “Did the PA Lie to the US Secretary of State?,” Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, June 14, 2017.) 

At a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting the next day (June 14), in response to questioning by three different committee members, Secretary Tillerson testified differently, indicating that the “pay to slay” payments are being “discussed” with the PA. (House Foreign Affairs Committee, “The FY2018 Foreign Affairs Budget Hearing – video,” Testimony of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, June 14, 2017) 

During round one of questioning at the House hearing, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla) noted that the “State Department determined that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority have not complied with their commitments under U.S. law, yet all potential sanctions were waived,” and asked “how you can justify an increase [to the PA in the FY 2018 budget request], when so many things in the budget are cut?” (Minute 41:30.) Sec’y Tillerson responded: “We’re in active discussion with the Palestinian Authority. . . .  These discussions [in Bethlehem] were around issues of how they [the PA] manage terrorism and how they manage violence within the West Bank and Gaza. . . . So all those issues of concern have been discussed with them.” (Minute 44:25.) 

Tillerson further stated, in response to questioning from Congressman Ted Deutsch (D-FL):”Those were assurances that were given to me, in the most recent trip to Bethlehem. . .  They indicated to me they were in the process of changing that.  They [the PA] did say, ‘We have to support widows and orphans.’ I said, ‘Widows and orphans is one thing.  Attaching payments as recognition of violence or murders is something the American people could never accept or understand.’ So we will continue this dialogue with them. We have been quite clear as to our view.”

Congressman Deutsch aptly summed this up, saying: “Unfortunately it appears that that [the PA] position has not yet changed.”

During round three, Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA) aptly noted that he was “tired of continuing to fund the PA” and hearing the same rhetoric about “discussions” and “a commitment to end these stipends to terrorists and murders.”  Rep. Perry asked whether Tillerson is assessing PA compliance and would claw back funds for lack of compliance with any commitment.  (Minute 2:00.35.)  Sec’y Tillerson responded that President Trump had made clear to the PA what we expect, and had some patience, but that at some point the president would become “disinterested”, which would alter the U.S. level of support for the PA.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “We see here a classic example of cynical PA lies designed to deceive the Trump Administration.” 

Despite the clear fact that the PA pays salaries to jailed Jew-killers, and intends to continue paying salaries to jailed Jew-killers, the PA utters misleading words to American officials designed to convey the false impression that the PA will cease such payments. In fact, all they will do, if they do anything at all, is re-categorize the same payments and their recipients, or make the same payments though a third party.”

This sleight of hand mirrors what the PA did some years ago when it arranged for Jew-killers to continuing being paid salaries, but simply altered the accounting so that the PA itself officially was not making the payments.  Another Palestinian entity continued to make the same payments, with funds from, or raised for, the PA.”

We appreciate that the Trump Administration and Congress have raised the issue of PA incitement and paying salaries to Jew-killing terrorists.  We are glad that the Administration and our representatives are pursuing this matter.  However, it is important to expose and refuse to accept PA statements that falsely imply that the payments to terrorists will be stopped.”

Accordingly, Secretary Tillerson should confirm that no change in PA policy has been made, unless and until tangible evidence of it is in his hands.  He should also firmly foreshadow that the PA’s continuation of ‘pay to slay’ payments under any name will lead to the termination of U.S. aid to the PA, not merely a reduction of itSecretary Tillerson should not fall into the trap of enabling the PA to continue its same payments by simply re-naming the terrorism rewards as ‘payments to orphans and widows’.’” 

“The PA has been making, and promptly breaking written and oral assurances to end its support for terrorism ever since the 1993 Oslo accords.  As Congressman Perry noted, we’re tired of the rhetoric.  Secretary Tillerson needs to insist on actual sustained action, including rescinding the PA authorizing payments to terrorists who murder Jews, and immediately ending the payments to terrorists and their families in any shape or form.”  

The ZOA does not believe that Abbas’ PA has any interest in making a genuine peace with Israel.  However, it is clear that the PA must cease its pro-terror, anti-peace actions –– including paying stipends to Jew-killers –– if there is to be any prospect of achieving peace in the future.”

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