["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." US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at Senate
Foreign Relations Committee 13 June, 2017]
State Department Press Briefing - June 15, 2017
Department Press Briefing
June 15, 2017
3:01 p.m. EDT
QUESTION: Secretary Tillerson told Congress the other day that Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or the authority have agreed not to make
payments to the families of prisoners and martyrs, as they call them. And
then yesterday he basically backtracked. Could you clarify this for us?
MS NAUERT: Yeah, I would not say that he – I wouldn’t characterize it the
way that you did.
We have and the Secretary has repeatedly raised concerns about payments to
prisoners and so-called martyrs with the Palestinian Authority. President
Abbas and other senior Palestinian Authority officials have assured us that
they are working to address that issue, but they have not stopped those
The Secretary addressed this yesterday, and he said this type of thing is
not acceptable to the American people; it is certainly not appropriate. I
think those are very clear comments. We have a certain set of expectations,
and the expectation is that that should, in fact, stop. Last month the
Palestinian Authority announced that it was stopping payments to some
Hamas-affiliated prisoners, but this step we consider to be inadequate to
talk about – to address our concerns.
QUESTION: Most of these prisoners are civilians, really, and they’re stone
throwers or administrative and so on.
MS NAUERT: I’m not going to get into a conversation about that.
QUESTION: Just back on the payments --
MS NAUERT: Yes.
QUESTION: -- is the Secretary – does he have the impression from his – or
did he get the impression from President Abbas in their conversations that
this – cutting off the payments to the Hamas people was like a first step,
and that it would --
MS NAUERT: I don’t know the answer – I don’t know the answer to that, Matt.
I can certainly ask. As you know, the Secretary is away right now. But we
will continue to pressure Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority to
stop those payments. The United States is serious about that.