We won’t be blackmailed by U.S. threat: Palestine
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Palestinian leaders said on Wednesday that they will not be “blackmailed” after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid worth more than $300 million annually.
Relations between Mr. Trump’s White House and the Palestinians were already tense after the U.S. President’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.
Mr. Trump’s threat in a tweet on Tuesday to try to force the Palestinians into negotiations led to further outrage, though Israeli Ministers lauded the move.
The Palestinians rely heavily on international aid, with many analysts, including Israelis, saying such assistance helps maintain stability in a volatile region.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
“With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
Mr. Abbas’s spokesman said they were not against negotiations, but that talks should be “based on international laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital”.
”Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.
Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement that “we will not be blackmailed”.
“President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice,” she said.
“Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!”
However, several Israeli Ministers voiced support for Mr. Trump, with the country’s right-wing government having seized on the U.S. President’s support to push ahead with initiatives seen as dealing further blows to remaining hopes for a two-state solution.
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said “You cannot on the one hand receive $300 million in American aid per year and at the same time close the door on negotiations.”
“We are dealing with a president who says what he thinks clearly and does not resort to diplomatic convolutions that mean nothing,” Mr. Regev told Israel’s Army radio.
Peace efforts derailed
Mr. Trump came to office boasting that he could achieve the “ultimate deal” that secures peace in the Middle East, something that has eluded presidents since the late 1960s.
For most of the past half century the United States has been seen as the indispensable — if sometimes imperfect — arbiter of the peace process.
Mr. Trump’s actions are likely to cast that further in doubt.
He has heaped pressure on Palestinians to do a deal, threatening to close the de facto “embassy” in Washington in addition to recognising Israel’s contested claim on Jerusalem and now threatening aid.
Efforts to harness improved Arab-Israel relations to push a peace deal have been at least temporarily derailed by Mr. Trump’s Jerusalem recognition, breaking with decades of U.S. policy.
The decision sparked almost universal diplomatic condemnation and deadly protests in the Palestinian territories.
It also prompted Abbas — 82 years old and facing the prospect of entering the history books as the leader who “lost Jerusalem” — to cancel a planned meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt took similar steps.
Mr. Pence was forced to delay a December visit to the Middle East until later this month, and aides on Tuesday rejected rumours of further delays.
“As we’ve said all along, the vice president is going to the Middle East in January,” said Mr. Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah.
“We’re finalising details and will announce specifics of the full trip in the coming days.”
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