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Trump's threat to cut Palestinian aid worries many in Israel

Trump's threat to cut Palestinian aid worries many in Israel

The tweet came after Nikki Harley, the US's ambassador to the United Nations, threatened to cut aid to the UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, unless the Palestinian leadership came back to the negotiating table.

Hours after Israel passed its law on Jerusalem, Trump affirmed the USA belief that the Palestinians are the major roadblock in peace negotiations, tweeting: "We pay the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect".

He continued: "With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

The Times notes this move "to make it far more hard to create a Palestinian state" follows actions that "have come on multiple fronts, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation's top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory".

The Guardian calls Trump's posturing "dangerous", and says it demonstrates "a lack of understanding of the delicate mechanics that help maintain relative peace between Israelis and Palestinians".

'Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions, ' Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

18 in favour of a resolution aimed at undoing the American administration's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr Trump promised to pursue "the ultimate deal" when he took office a year ago, and asked his son-in-law Jared Kushner and former lawyer Justin Greenblatt to work on a plan to end the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said "Palestinians' rights are not for sale".

Mr Trump's latest comments appear to contradict his previous statement that the USA recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would not impact the final status of the city in peace negotiations.

And despite the unsafe demagogic fulminations of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, throughout the centuries that the Turks ruled the Middle East, no attempt was made to create an independent Palestinian state - or indeed, any independent Arab state in the region - or to raise the status of Jerusalem to a pilgrimage-worthy Muslim city.

A view of the Israeli parliament in session. JTA
A view of the Israeli parliament in session. JTA

The tweets come following Trump's decision to formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, causing unrest in the region.

He has heaped pressure on Palestinians to do a deal, threatening to close the de facto "embassy" in Washington in addition to recognising Israel's contested claim on Jerusalem and now threatening aid.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters at United Nations headquarters, January 2, 2018 in New York City. Much of it instead went towards projects administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAid).

Erekat pointed to what he said were other USA moves against the Palestinians, including efforts to close the PLO mission in Washington, and made an apparent reference to a bill that would cut economic aid to the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay wages to the families of terrorists who attacked Israelis. "Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible action!"

"What was winked and nodded about before is now being acknowledged publicly: 'We have no intent of sharing this land with anybody else except as a barely tolerated minority, '" Daniel Seidemann, director of Terrestrial Jerusalem, which focuses on Jerusalem's fate in a potential two-state solution, told the New York Times.

The United States is the largest donor to UNRWA.

The president's decisions last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and begin preparations to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv were denounced by the Palestinians, who said it showed the United States could not be a neutral mediator.

"Haley responded to a question regarding whether the USA would continue to fund the agency in light of the Palestinians' threat to "unleash all the weapons we have in the UN", by saying, "[President Trump] doesn't want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table, and what we saw with the [UN Jerusalem] resolution was not helpful to the situation". "We're trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn't happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation".

Some Israeli politicians on the right welcomed the fact that Trump had clearly blamed the Palestinians for the stalled peace process, and they even praised the idea of reducing financial support.

"We all know that's complete nonsense", she said.

It's not clear what Trump meant by having taken Jerusalem "off the table".

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