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Trump Floats Cutting Payments to Palestinians

January 3rd 2018

Mahmoud Abbas at parliament
Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas

President Donald Trump suggested on Tuesday that the U.S. should consider cutting payments to the Palestinians, saying their officials “don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel.”

"[W]e pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” the president posted on Twitter. “They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.”

He added: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

It was unclear which payments to the Palestinian Authority the president was questioning. But the U.S. 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 U.S.-led peace process with Israel.

“He doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table, and what we saw with the resolution was not helpful to the situation,” Haley told reporters at the U.N. headquarters in New York. “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.”

Last month, Trump announced that the U.S. was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and planned to move its embassy there from Tel Aviv. After an outcry from Palestinian officials, Yemen and Turkey drafted a U.N. resolution to demand that the U.S. reverse its decision. Trump floated the idea of cutting aid to U.N. nations that voted for the resolution, but the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved it, 128 to 9, with 35 nations abstaining.

The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said the Trump White House had “disqualified” itself from participating in the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians after the U.S. failed to muster sufficient international support for its declaration on Jerusalem.


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