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2 Jan, 2018 22:58

Trump suggests cutting aid to Palestine after 'taking Jerusalem off the table'

Trump suggests cutting aid to Palestine after 'taking Jerusalem off the table'

US President Donald Trump has suggested the US should halt aid to the Palestinian Authority, accusing the Palestinians of being “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel.

After announcing that the US would halt aid to Pakistan because Islamabad is “not doing enough” to combat terrorism, Trump followed up with tweets that the US is getting “no appreciation or respect” from the Palestinians though it sends “hundreds of millions of dollars” a year.

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel,” Trump wrote.

“We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table,” he added. “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

Trump's tweets came just hours after US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, announced presidential intentions to punish the Palestinians over their refusal to hold negotiations with Israel.

"The President has basically said that he doesn’t want to give any additional funding... until the Palestinians are agreeing to come back to the negotiating table,” Haley said on Tuesday 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."

Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, the US has been among the major donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA), created to manage limited self-governance in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The goal of the aid was to stimulate economic growth in Palestinian territories and build public support for negotiations with Israel.

In 2011, when Washington threatened to cut off the aid because the PA was negotiating a unity government with Hamas considered a terrorist group by both the US and Israel the PA said it was willing to give up the funding.

“Palestinians need American money, but if they use it as a way of pressuring us, we are ready to relinquish that aid,” a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas said at the time.

Last month, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the US embassy to relocate there. Congress passed a law in 1995 ordering the embassy’s relocation, but every president since has signed a waiver delaying its implementation.

Jerusalem was divided between Israel and Jordan under the 1949 armistice, and has been entirely controlled by Israel since June 1967. The UN has not recognized Israel’s annexation of the city, and the Palestinians continue to claim the eastern half of Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.