Nabil Shaath
Nabil ShaathMiriam Alster/Flash 90

Payments to jailed terrorists are a “social responsibility”, a special advisor to Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas claimed on Thursday.

“Payments to support families are a social responsibility, to look after innocent people affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones as a result of the military occupation,” the advisor, Nabil Shaath, said in a speech he delivered in Abbas's name at the 2017 Herzliya Conference.

Shaath blasted Israel for refusing to recognize “the state of Palestine.”

“Since the Oslo Accords were signed, some success was reached in the interim status negotiations, but very little was achieved in the permanent status negotiations. The atmosphere of hope changed, particularly after the arrival of Netanyahu in 2009. The Netanyahu government finds an excuse to avoid discussing the key issues agreed upon at the beginning of the peace process – instead of talking about borders, Netanyahu has introduced new pretexts which were never part of the Oslo Agreement, such as recognition of Israel as a specifically Jewish state or full Israeli military control of vast areas of the State of Palestine,” he charged, ignoring the fact that Abbas continuously rejects Netanyahu's calls to sit down for direct negotiations.

“On the issue of incitement,” said Shaath, “I want to be very clear…we reiterate our call for the revival of the Tripartite Israeli-Palestinian-American Committee on Incitement, where we will all be able to bring our complaints on incitement to be verified and dealt with, including Israeli provocations and incitement from Israeli officials. Is any rational person going to claim that one-third of the Palestinians are terrorists because they’ve been through the Israeli jails? It’s quite frankly a racist rhetoric to call our political prisoners terrorists – they are victims of the occupation.”

“We face a renewed opportunity with the support of President Trump, and I reiterate that we seek a just and lasting peace that fully ends the Israeli occupation that began in ’67, with two states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security,” said Shaath.

“We envision Jerusalem as an open and free city, with East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of Palestine, and West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. I call upon the Israeli leaders to tell your people: you cannot make peace with tanks and plans – there cannot be peace or security for anyone while one people occupy and control the lives of another. We are all human beings and deserve the same rights and opportunities to live, love, and thrive on this Holy Land,” he concluded.

The issue of the PA's payment to terrorists was brought up in a recent meeting in Washington between Abbas and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Secretary of State Rex Tilleson claimed last week that the PA had stopped its policy of paying terrorists following pressure from the Trump administration.

"They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others. We have been very clear with them that this is simply not acceptable to us," he said.

A senior Israeli official later said there was no evidence the PA had taken any steps to change its policy of funding terrorists and their families.