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Palestinians, Israelis contest Tillerson on "martyrs' fund" - KVOA | | Tucson, Arizona

19 Juin 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that the USA was in the midst of an "active discussion" with the Palestinian Authority on the issue of support for convicted terrorists, a significant change from a statement he made Tuesday on the same subject, in which he declared that the Palestinians have "changed their policy" of financially supporting families of convicted terrorists.

President Trump raised the contentious issue with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, on a visit to the Middle East last month.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He told lawmakers the USA government would like to retain the ability to talk to Russian Federation with an arsenal of incentives and punishments at its disposal.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson achieved a momentary consensus among Israeli and Palestinian officials - but not in the way he may have hoped.

"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.

"Those were assurances that were given to me in the most recent trip to Bethlehem", Tillerson said. The deal stopped the all-out fighting and forced the pullout of heavy weaponry from the line of contact by both sides, although separate incidents of shelling and shooting continued.

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

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"Israel is unaware of any change in the policy of the Palestinians, who continue to make payments to the families of terrorists", an official said, describing the payments a form of incitement to carry out violence. "We must develop proactive responses to protect and advance the interest of the American people".

"They have changed their policy", Tillerson said, referring to the Palestinians, Reuters reported.

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

At the same time, there are 6,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails, including 500 detained without charge, in some cases for years.

When Trump met with Abbas in Washington on May 3, the White House said the USA president brought up the issue with the Palestinian leader.