Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Palestinians Fire Back at Trump's Threat to Cut Off Aid

Palestinians Fire Back at Trump's Threat to Cut Off Aid Palestinians Fire Back at Trump's Threat to Cut Off Aid
Melinda Barton | 13 January, 2018, 06:03

Palestinians condemned as blackmail yesterday U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to withhold future aid payments over what he called the Palestinians' unwillingness to talk peace with Israel.

But the USA ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said earlier Tuesday that Trump planned to withhold money for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the entity tasked with aiding Palestinian refugees, if their leaders did not fully engage in the us -led peace process with Israel.

Last month, the USA was met with global opposition at the United Nations when the worldwide body overwhelmingly rebuked Washington for its December 6 decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

"We are not against going back to negotiations, but (these should be) based on worldwide laws and resolutions that have recognized an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital", Abu Rudeina said. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue.

"Against Israel's strategy, we draw attention to a comprehensive strategy that will invalidate the Israeli and USA decisions [on Jerusalem] and make it possible to review the Palestine cause as a national salvation project", he said.

Mr Trump's blunt comments represented a tougher tone toward the Palestinians than he has generally taken, suggesting that he is moving toward pressuring them to come to the table by threatening punishment rather than enticing them with promises of a deal that would benefit them.

The U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem prompted weeks of protests in Arab and Muslim countries around the world and numerous so-called days of rage in Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank.

Following the vote, Trump immediately took action, reducing the US's funding to the United Nations by 285 million dollars in 2018 and 2019. "We're going to make sure they come to the table and we want to move forward with the peace process".

The US gave $357m to the Palestinian Authority in 2016, according to The Times of Israel.

Most countries regard the status of Jerusalem as a matter to be settled in an eventual Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, although that process is now stalled. While Israel sees Jerusalem as its undivided capital, Palestinians also claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The US president "sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice".

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian leader, said Trump had "singlehandedly destroyed the very foundations of peace" with his Jerusalem declaration, ABC News reports.

On a symbolic level, UNRWA provides hope that someday, Palestinians can return to their lands now occupied by Israel, RT pinpointed.

It was unclear which payments to the Palestinian Authority the president was questioning.