A top Jewish congressman discussed U.S. funding for the Palestinians with the Palestinian Authority prime minister. Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) met Thursday with Salam Fayyad Thursday during Israel’s brief July 4 break trip to Israel and the Palestinian areas. Rep. Israel, who had opposed funding for the Palestinian Authority when Fayyad was a finance minister in a Hamas-led government, said he was encouraged now that Fayyad led a government that had split from the terrorist group. “The purpose of the meeting was to encourage him to make the difficult decisions that are necessary for peace and security,” Rep. Israel told JTA. “He made one just yesterday, when he refused to release funds to 23,000 personnel who were affiliated with Hamas, and as a result Hamas militants attacked the former finance ministry in Gaza today. The fact that this prime minister has shown some resiliency is an encouraging sign.” Rep. Israel, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, said the Bush administration plans to seek re-approval from Congress for $86 million it wants to help prop up Fayyad’s moderate government.