WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump admitted the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and threatened to cut aid to Palestinians worth more than $300 million a year, drawing a rebuke that they would not be “blackmailed”.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted. “With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”It was not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth $319 million in 2016, according to US government figures.
Palestinians say Jerusalem ‘not for sale’ after Trump aid threat: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s office said Wednesday Jerusalem is “not for sale” after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut annual aid of more than $300 million to force them to the negotiating table.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions,” Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, referring to Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The December 6 declaration led Abbas to say the United States could no longer play any role in the Middle East peace process. “We are not against going back to negotiations, but (these should be) based on international laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital,” Abu Rudeina said. The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional $304m for the UN’s programs in the West Bank and Gaza. Unless Trump follows through on his customary tough talk, the message is likely to be seen as primarily political. Trump came to office boasting that he could achieve the “ultimate deal” that secures peace in the Middle East, something that has eluded presidents since the late 1960s. For most the last half century the US has been seen as indispensable — if sometimes imperfect — arbiter of the peace process. Trump’s actions are likely to cast that further in doubt. He has heaped pressure on Palestinians to do a deal, threatening to close the de facto “embassy” in Washington, recognizing Israel’s contested claim on Jerusalem and now threatening aid.