President Donald Trump announced his decision to cut future aid payments going to the Palestinian Authority if it fails to come to the negotiating table with Israel.
The U.S. pays “hundreds 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.” President Trump wrote on Twitter. “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?” President added.
President’s announcement follows US Ambassador Nikki Haley’s statement calling for an end to the funding of Palestinians through the UN agency UNRWA. “The President has basically said he doesn’t want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table,” U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley told reporters earlier.
The US announcement was met with anger and outrage by the officials of the Palestinian Authority (PA). “Palestinian officials reacted furiously” noted the Washington Post.
Israel welcomed the U.S. decision, with Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev praising President Trump for making a “very clear statements.”
The Reuters news agency reported the reaction from the region:
Trump drew praise from a cabinet minister in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government but a warning from a former Israeli peace negotiator of the dangers in cutting off financial assistance to the Palestinians. (…)
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in response: “We will not be blackmailed.”
Palestinian anger at Trump is already high over his Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a declaration that also generated outrage across the Arab world and concern among Washington’s Western allies.
Commenting on Trump’s tweets, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “Jerusalem is not for sale, neither for gold nor for silver.”]
In 2016, the U.S. gave $712 million in aid to the Palestinians, more than any other country in the world. Nearly half of that money went through the UN agencies. Like most of the wasteful UN aid programs, a large portion of that money never reaches the poor and needy Palestinians. Each year, hundreds of millions of foreign aid dollars end up in the coffers of PLO or Hamas operatives and sympathizers.
According to the watchdog NGO Monitor, the UN has been siphoning off millions of dollars to groups and NGOs involved inciting terrorism against Jews and the State of Israel. Cutting the aid to the Palestinian Authority alone will be a great step towards peace in the region.