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Monday, March 13, 2017

Trump’s Middle East diplomacy is complicated by Palestinian terror incitement


The Trump administration’s budding efforts to establish a new Middle East diplomatic process are about to run into some stiff headwinds at home. Many in Congress want to cancel all U.S. aid to the Palestinians because of payments made to militants who attack Israelis. President Trump will soon have to decide if confronting the Palestinians on that terrorist incitement is more urgent than pursuing a pathway to peace.

Trump conducted his first phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Friday, and White House Israel affairs adviser Jason Greenblatt is headed to the region this week. On Greenblatt’s agenda will be whether the U.S. and Israeli governments should raise the pressure on the Palestinian Authority to stop paying the families of Palestinians imprisoned or killed after attacking Israeli or American civilians, a practice both governments believe incentivizes violence.

Republicans in both chambers of Congress are pushing legislation that would cut off all U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, more than $300 million in fiscal year 2016 , unless its chief political counterpart, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, ceases rewarding the families of attackers. The bill is not new, but its sponsors believe that Trump’s victory bolsters their cause...

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