Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked encouraged U.S. efforts to pressure the Palestinian Authority to end the longtime practice of paying terrorists and their families for carrying out attacks against Israelis and Americans.
Shaked, currently on a trip to the United States that will include a visit with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, said during a Wednesday event at the Hudson Institute that Israel "definitely needs" the United States' help to put an end to the practice. Shaked added that Israel would be "grateful" for the passage of the Taylor Force Act, legislation that would cut U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority until it ceases to pay monetary awards to terrorists and their families.
"A lot of money is going to prisoners in jail [convicted of terrorism offenses] and also to their families," Shaked said. "We have tried many times to block the transferring of money, but I think that we definitely need your help."
"I think that if President Trump and Congress put pressure on it, the Palestinian Authority will not have a choice and will have to stop it," she said. "The United States can definitely help us and if it succeeds we will of course be very grateful."
Shedding light on how "totally absurd" the practice has become, Shaked cited the 2011 massacre of the Fogel family—both parents and three children ages 11, 4, and 3 months—by two Palestinian terrorists.
"If you murder more, you get more money," Shaked said. "For example, the murderers of the Fogel family, of babies and two parents, are getting more than $4,000 a month in prison. It's totally absurd."
A group of Republican senators urged President Donald Trump to demand an end to the practice during his meeting last week with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The senators asked Trump to publicly express support for the Taylor Force Act.
The White House said Trump "emphasized the need to resolve" the issue of Palestinian payments to prisoners in Israeli jails during his meeting with Abbas last Wednesday.
"Trump raised his concerns about payments to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who have committed terrorist acts, and to their families, and emphasized the need to resolve this issue," the White House said in a readout of Trump's meeting with Abbas.
Shaked is scheduled to meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
The justice minister recommended that the Trump administration push for an economic agreement in the Middle East rather than pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Shaked said because she is "realistic" she expects peace negotiations to fail, but that she hopes the Trump administration seeks a creative solution to the conflict.
"I think President Trump has a huge opportunity to have an economic deal—he is the right person to do it," Shaked said, noting that the gap between Israel and Palestinians is too big to discuss peace right now since breakdown of discussions could lead to more terrorist attacks.
"Every time there is a peace process that failed, after that there was a terror wave," Shaked said. "So if you ask me, if the president is talking about a deal, the economic deal can be much better."
Shaked said the Israeli government is keeping close tabs on the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement on college campuses in the United States. "The BDS movement is not against the settlements, it is against the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," she said. "Sometimes they try to fool people using the [naïvety] of liberal activists here in the United States, but if you really listen to what their leaders want, they want Israel as a Jewish and democratic state to vanish from the map."
Shaked said "Israel is taking this [BDS] very seriously," but added that the movement is failing to achieve its goals.
"They push economic boycotts on Israel, but if you look at the data the economy of Israel just keeps growing," she said. "So they are losing."
Shaked praised the Trump administration earlier this week for its defense of Israel at the United Nations, crediting U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley for ensuring that "Israel is not the United Nations' punching bag anymore."
Shaked, widely viewed as a rising star in Israeli politics, was named one of the world's hottest ministers by the Washington Free Beacon in 2015.