President Trump suggested Tuesday that he may cut off aid payments to the Palestinian Authority if it does not resume peace negotiations with Israel.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” he wrote 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. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
After Trump announced last month that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and planned to move the U.S. embassy there, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that the ceremony “represents a declaration that the United States has withdrawn from playing the role it has played in the past decades in sponsoring the peace process.”
In 2016, the United States Agency for International Development, a division of the State Department, dispensed more than $290 million in funding for humanitarian projects in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank. The U.S. also gave the P.A. more than $54 million for security, and donated more than $355 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said in a speech earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. would stop funding UNRWA unless the Palestinians “agree to come back to the negotiation table.”
“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,” Haley added.
The United States is the largest donor to UNRWA.
Other events in Washington in recent months have been designed to put the squeeze on the Palestinians and make them return to the negotiating table. In November, the State Department threatened to force the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s embassy in D.C. unless the Palestinians entered peace talks and stopped attempting to prosecute Israelis at the International Criminal Court. The State Department backtracked the following week and said it could remain open as long as its activities only had to do with resuming the peace process.
In December, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Taylor Force Act, which would cut most funding to the Palestinian Authority unless it stopped paying pensions to the families of people jailed for killing Israelis in terror attacks.