WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump has ordered his administration to review aid to the Palestinians and to the international bodies that sustain them, weighing a significant cut if Palestinian leadership refuses to enter serious peace talks with Israel, a senior administration official said on Thursday.
The formal review process began after Trump tweeted angrily earlier this week that Palestinians were receiving "HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS" in US aid without offering Washington "appreciation or respect" in return. Palestinian Authority officials dismissed Trump as an unserious peace broker last month after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The status of the ancient city is one of the thorniest issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“We are reviewing our assistance to the Palestinians in light of their recent conduct, per the president’s recent message,” the senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post.Officials are eyeing a cut to UN bodies that are viewed as biased against Israel, as part of the president's broader policy goal of cutting funding to the international body. On the chopping block may be aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees and their families.Earlier this week, the White House accused PA officials of "spreading falsehoods" about US policy and undermining its efforts to forge peace before they formally begin."The president is a master dealmaker 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,” an official told the 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."
US threatens to withhold aid cash to Palestinians, January 3, 2018 (Reuters)