Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Palestinians blast Trump's threat to withhold aid

Palestinians blast Trump's threat to withhold aid

President Donald Trump backed his envoy to the United Nations by threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians unless they return to the negotiating table with Israel.

Trump wrote on Twitter that the US sends hundreds of millions of dollars each year and gets "no appreciation or respect".

UNRWA, which receives around $300 million annually from the US, for years has been the lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Trump's threat in a tweet on Tuesday to try to force the Palestinians into negotiations led to further outrage, though Israeli ministers lauded the move. But cutting off aid could also affect Israel, which relies on the Palestinian Authority to help maintain calm in the volatile region, the newspaper adds.

Palestinian officials have said they can no longer use Washington as a broker to restart peace talks with Israel following Trump's December 6 decision to overturn decades of U.S. policy and recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and ultimately to move the U.S. Embassy there.

The office of Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas rejected what the Palestinians called Trump's "blackmail" attempt, saying "Jerusalem is not for sale, neither for gold nor silver".

Tuesday's tweets marked a tacit admission by Trump that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the USA embassy there has thrown a wrench into his administration's plans to restart the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, which he had dubbed "the ultimate deal".

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Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi responded with a statement Wednesday.

Israeli lawmakers passed a bill early on Tuesday morning which limits the ability of its government to divide Jerusalem, which is a central Palestinian demand for a two-state agreement.

"President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible action!"

The US has made clear that unless the Palestinian Authority is willing to negotiate, US aid will be cut to the UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees.

"We still very much want to have a peace process, nothing changes that", she said.

"The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process", said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has said he will not accept any USA peace plan for the Middle East.

On Sunday, the PA said it was recalling its envoy to the United States for consultations, in protest of U.S. actions.

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