Washington: US President Donald Trump today threatened to withdraw aid money to Palestinians as they are unwilling to negotiate peace with Israel.
“..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,” Trump said in a series of two lengthy tweets.
“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?” Trump asked.
According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, since the mid-1990s, the US government has committed more than USD 5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal security assistance to the Palestinians.
Earlier in the day, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the US would cut off aid if the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage in peace negotiations.
“I think the president has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding or stop funding until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiation table,” Haley told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“What we saw with the resolution was not helpful to the situation. We’re trying to move for a peace process. But if that doesn’t happen the president’s not going to continue to fund that situation,” Haley said in response to a question when asked if the US would continue to fund Palestine despite the recent resolution of the UN General Assembly against Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel.
“The Palestinians now have to show their will that they want to come to the table. As of now they are not coming to the table but they ask for aid. We’re not giving the aid. We are going to make sure that they come to the table and we want to move forward with the peace process,” she said.
US aid to the Palestinians is intended to promote at least three major US policy priorities of interest to Congress.
First — promoting prevention or mitigation of terrorism against Israel from the Sunni Islamist group Hamas and other militant organisations; second – fostering stability, prosperity, and self-governance that may incline Palestinians toward peaceful coexistence with Israel and a “two-state solution”; and third – meeting humanitarian needs.
According to CRS, from 2008 to the present, annual Economic Support Fund (ESF) assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip has averaged around USD 400 million.
Much of this goes toward US Agency for International Development (USAID)-administered project assistance (through grants and contracts), and the rest toward budget support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). (PTI)