Trump threatens to cut USA aid to Palestine

Pablo Tucker
January 13, 2018

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley also told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York City that funding to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) could be cut as well.

President Trump suggested Tuesday that he may cut off aid payments to the Palestinian Authority if it does not resume peace negotiations with Israel.

Trump's December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem - disputed territory - as the Israeli capital and to eventually move the USA embassy there from Tel Aviv has drawn worldwide criticism and outrage, resulting in weeks of protests in several countries and a call to arms by militant groups in the Middle East and Africa.

Abu Rudeineh stressed that the Palestinian leadership is not against returning to negotiations but that "real peace and negotiations should be based on Arab and global legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative leading to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital".

Palestinians rely heavily on the $320 million in aid money they receive each year, which experts say helps bring some security to the volatile region.

Relations between his administration and the Palestinian Authority have deteriorated since Trump decided last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, said that Palestine, on one hand, can not receive $300 million in American aid per year and close the door on negotiations, at the same time.

"We will not be blackmailed", said Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi, Reuters reported. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as their future capital.

Israeli leaders acknowledged Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem emboldened Netanyahu's conservative party.

Palestinian anger at Mr Trump is already high over his Dec 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a declaration that generated outrage across the Arab world and concern among Washington's Western allies.

In 2011, when Washington threatened to cut off the aid because the PA was negotiating a unity government with Hamas - considered a terrorist group by both the USA and Israel - the PA said it was willing to give up the funding.

In the days following Trump's December 6 announcement on the status of Jerusalem, the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which called for a reversal of Washington's decision.

The shock December 6 declaration sparked waves of protests throughout the world and led the Palestinian side to reject any future role for the peace efforts. To them, he seems to have pre-emptively ruled out one of their most important conditions for a final peace deal before negotiations even begin, that East Jerusalem would be their capital alongside the Israeli capital in West Jerusalem.

The United States is the largest donor to the agency, with a pledge of more than £270m as of 2016, according to UNRWA's website. "We're going to make sure they come to the table".

Other reports by iNewsToday