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Tillerson waters down statement that Palestinians 'changed policy' of terror payments

19 June 2017

"Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has previously backed the US staying in the Paris climate agreement, told lawmakers on Tuesday that his views have "never changed" but that he respects President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the worldwide accord aimed at slowing global warming".

Under questioning at a Senate hearing, Tillerson said Washington had pressed Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas on the issue of payments to the families of suicide bombers and attackers killed.

Tillerson, testifying in a hearing on Capitol Hill with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the State Department's budget, said the Palestinian Authority plans to end that practice. As an example, Tillerson said talks with Moscow on stabilizing war-ravaged Syria are progressing, but it's too early to tell if the discussions will bear fruit.

US President Donald Trump has not decided whether to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite White House assurances that the move will occur in a matter of time, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday.

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"We have registered our complaint about that, and that it is going to be a constant obstacle to our ability to improve our relationship if they do not address it", he said.

"The 21st century has already presented many evolving challenges to USA national security and economic prosperity", Tillerson said.

"In order to continue fighting the rise in global anti-Semitism, it is critical that our government allocate the appropriate resources and that begins with the key appointment to fill the Special Envoy role at the State Department", Greenblatt said in a statement.

"They have indicated they would" stop these payments, Tillerson added.

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"They have changed their policy, at least I have been informed they've changed that policy", Tillerson told United States lawmakers.

Congress is now considering legislation, dubbed the Taylor Force Act, that would cease all US aid to the Palestinian government until it can certify these payments have stopped.

One former Israeli official told the Free Beacon that, contrary to Tillerson's initial claim, there is no evidence the Palestinians have ceased these payments.

But Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and another senior official said that they have not seen "any indication" that the PA has stopped or intends to stop payments to terrorists and their families, expressing skepticism over Tillerson's declaration.

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The Palestine Liberation Organization, the group that formally represents all Palestinians, set up the "martyrs' fund" in 1967.