A delegation of leading Republican senators on Tuesday urged President Donald Trump to demand that Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas end his practice of paying terrorists and their families for attacks committed against Israel.
The demand was made by the senators in a letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon and sent Tuesday to the White House.
The letter is spearheaded by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Tom Cotton (R-AK). They are urging Trump to lay down a marker when he hosts Abbas for a round of meetings on the Middle East peace process on Wednesday.
The lawmakers are pushing Trump to reverse a years-long policy under the former Obama administration that sought to downplay the PA’s support for terrorism and put the onus for peace directly on Israel.
"One of the most troubling aspects of the Obama administration's handling of this issue was the double standard applied to the two parties," the lawmakers write to Trump, according to the Free Beacon. "This double standard saw Israel criticized and condemned regularly, while the Palestinian Authority and its leadership were rarely, if ever, held accountable."
They continue, "This unwillingness to speak out when the PA rewarded and glorified terrorism left many with the mistaken impression that the PA was earnestly seeking peace—and that Israel was the impediment."
Abbas has openly admitted several times that the PA pays salaries to terrorists.
In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called on Trump to pressure Abbas during their upcoming meeting to stop encouraging terror by funding jailed terrorists and their families.
A PA official later stressed that Abbas “completely rejects” Israel’s call and added that the PA was fully supportive of Palestinian terrorists sitting in Israeli jails.
The PA, which receives millions in funding from U.S. taxpayers, spends roughly $300 million a year—or eight percent of its total budget—on salaries for terrorists who are imprisoned in Israel for their crimes as well as the families of terrorists who attacked the Jewish state, noted the Free Beacon.
"Far from being an information practice, these payments are codified in Palestinian Authority law," the lawmakers wrote to Trump. "If these facts seem hard to believe, it is because for many years they were obscured by an administration that found them inconvenient to the narrative it sought to promote."
"The United States cannot treat the Palestinian Authority as a partner for peace, or take seriously president Abbas's claimed desire for peace, so long as the PA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year funding and incentivizing terror," the letter states.
In addition, the lawmakers ask Trump to publicly express support for the Taylor Force Act, a new legislation that would cut U.S. funding to the PA until payments to terrorists cease.