Tuesday’s tweets mark a tacit admission by Trump that his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem had thrown a wrench into his administration’s plans to restart the peace process.
“The only thing the president has accomplished by saying he’s taking Jerusalem ‘off the table’ is to ensure he’ll have no place at the table where the conflict will be resolved diplomatically and a peaceful, secure future for the Jewish or Palestinian peoples ensured.
“In threatening to cut off future ‘huge’ payments to the Palestinians, the president is actually posing a direct threat to Israel’s security & well-being. American aid supports training for Palestinian security forces who have been partners of the IDF in preventing terror.”
— Jeremy Ben-Ami, President of J Street
Donald Trump has dramatically escalated his conflict with the Palestinian leadership, threatening to cut funding for the Palestinian Authority unless it recommences peace talks.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, earlier said the US would cut funds to UNRWA, the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, unless the Palestinian Authority went back to the negotiating table.
In what appeared to be an angry and defensive acknowledgement that his quest for the “ultimate deal” of Middle East peace has foundered following his controversial recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump lashed out at the Palestinian leadership.
In a pair of tweets, he said the US paid “the Palestinians HUNDRED [sic] 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.”
“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?”
As ever, quite what Trump had in mind was left vague, but one key Palestinian recipient of US funding is the Palestinian Authority’s security forces, which cooperate with their counterparts in Israel. US funding for the Palestinians is $260m, with an additional $50m used to support Palestinian security services.