Verbal attacks by the Palestinian leadership on the US administration triggered President Donald Trump’s Twitter storm Tuesday threatening to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it does not return to negotiations and show more appreciation for US aid, a senior White House official said on Wednesday.“It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others,” Trump posted in a tweet. “As an example, we pay the Palestinians hundred 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,” he continued.“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?” PA officials have angrily dismissed Trump as an honest broker after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.
Israeli and Palestinian reactions to Trump's threat to halt aid to Palestinians, January 3, 2018
“The president is a master deal-maker and is as committed to trying to achieve the ultimate peace deal as ever but he will not tolerate falsehoods being spread about America and our positions – and he certainly will not spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize those who spread them,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “In the meantime, we remain hard at work on our comprehensive peace plan which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians and will be unveiled when it is ready and the time is right.”Trump has assigned his son-in-law and special representative for international negotiations, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, to bring Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table. They have been working on a plan to do so for over a year and remain undeterred, despite growing distrust on the Palestinian side, US officials say.Trump’s assertion that he had taken Jerusalem “off the table” in peace negotiations echoed comments first uttered by his envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, shortly after the decision was announced. The administration previously said that recognition does not predetermine the final status of sovereignty in Jerusalem.In taking Jerusalem “off the table,” US officials believe the president has underscored the current and historical reality of the city – and America’s belief that Israel’s capital will remain Jerusalem into the future – without weighing in on whether the city will be divided in a comprehensive peace accord with the Palestinians.Trump’s tweets were met with satisfaction by many in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, even though Netanyahu himself had no response.The ministers ignored, however, a hint in the tweet that Trump had expected Israel to “pay” in negotiations for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and decision to move the embassy there.National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Post that when he was finance minister from 2009 to 2013, he froze funding to the PA after the it violated agreements and sought membership in the United Nations.“I am glad that President Trump has threatened similar steps after the PA spit in the face of the USA,” he said.Education Minister Naftali Bennett praised Trump for being willing to speak the truth, even if it is not popular.“The truth is Jerusalem has always been, and will always be, Israel’s capital,” Bennett said. “The truth is no peace deal could ever be predicated on the division of Jerusalem. The truth is the US has no interest in funding those who act against its interest. The truth is the Palestinian leadership continues to fund terrorists, using US tax monies.”Communication Minister Ayoub Kara said that the best thing Trump does for Israel is rip off the “Palestinians’ mask of hypocrisy.”
US threatens to withhold aid cash to Palestinians, January 3, 2018 (Reuters)