The Trump administration's effort to launch a new peace process between Israel and the Palestinians is meeting strong opposition at home. Republican legislators from both houses of Congress want to cancel US aid to the Palestinians, which amounts to over $300 million in the 2016 fiscal year, because of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's long-established practice of paying money to families of terrorists killed in attacks on Israeli targets or arrested following attacks.
In an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post', foreign policy analyst Josh Rogin writes that US President Donald Trump will have to decide soon whether his administration is prepared to confront the Palestinians on this issue. Following Trump's telephone conversation with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on Friday, in which he invited Abbas to visit the White House soon, his Israel affairs adviser Jason Greenblatt is due in Jerusalem today, and one of the matters on his agenda is whether the US and Israel should step up the pressure on the Palestinian Authority to halt the payments to families of terrorists.
The initiative to stop US aid to the Palestinians is not new, but its proponents believe that with Trump as president its chances of succeeding are greater.
Democratic legislators see the bill as liable to harm the stability of the Palestinian Authority. Rogin quotes Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Benjamin L. Cardin as saying, “We are not going to take steps to jeopardize the security of the West Bank’s economic development, which is critically important.”
An Israeli embassy official told Rogin that the Israeli government "thinks it very important to shine a spotlight on the issue," and said “You can’t pay terrorists and support peace.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 13, 2017
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