United States President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA), asking why his country should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians were “no longer willing to talk peace,” The AP reported on Tuesday.
In a pair of tweets, the President observed that Washington was paying the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars a year “for nothing,” complaining that the U.S. received “no appreciation or respect” in return.
“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel,” he said. “We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”
Trump added: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” The U.S. currently gives the PA over $300 million in annual aid.
PA leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to relocate the embassy with fury, questioning Trump’s credibility as a peace broker and calling the decision “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”
Trump’s envoy to the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, foreshadowed Trump’s warning earlier on Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council, when she threatened to cut off funding to the U.N.’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, if the Palestinians refused to engage in peace negotiations.
“I think the president has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table,” Haley said. “We’re trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn’t happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation.”
The U.S. was the biggest donor to UNRWA in 2016, giving $368,429,712. It is also the largest overall supplier of financial assistance to the Palestinians.
The PA on Wednesday rebuffed the President’s words. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told reporters.
[Photo: Flickr/ Michael Valdon]