Trump threatens to cut off aid to Palestinians
Washington: US President Donald Trump has raised the prospect of cutting off aid to the Palestinian territories unless its leaders agree to resume negotiations to broker a peace deal with Israel, the media reported.
“We pay the Palestinians hundred of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.
“We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
Trump’s tweets came nearly a month after he became the first sitting US President to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, drawing Palestinians into the streets in protest and causing Palestinian leaders to reject the US’s decades-old role as the central negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks,reports CNN.
He also said he would move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, where all other nations have their consulates.
The decision was overwhelmingly condemned at the UN, where 128 countries voted against Trump’s fulfilment of a campaign promise.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, discredited the US as an honest broker in the peace process.
While Trump administration officials have said they expected a “cooling off period” with the Palestinians, Trump’s tweets on Tuesday signaled that the President has grown frustrated with Palestinians’ refusal to partake in a US-led peace process in the wake of his Jerusalem decision, CNN reported.
The tweets also came after the White House confirmed that the US plans to withhold some of its aid to Pakistan to pressure the country into better counter terrorism cooperation with the US.
The US had spent $616 million on aid to the Palestinian territories in 2016, according to the US Agency for International Development, which includes humanitarian assistance, private sector debt payments and infrastructure development assistance.
Jerusalem is one of the world’s most contested sites. Israel claims the whole of the city as its capital.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.