Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump Threatens To Withdraw US Aid To Palestinians

Trump Threatens To Withdraw US Aid To Palestinians

US President Donald Trump threatened Tuesday to cut aid to the Palestinians, saying they are "no longer willing to talk peace".

The US was the biggest donor to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in 2016, giving over United States dollars 368,000,000.

The new threats by the US came in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's declaration last month that the Americans had "disqualified" themselves from brokering peace talks by recognizing Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

The president's threat comes almost one month after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and said he would begin plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city's eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move never recognised internationally.

Palestinians rely heavily on the $320 million in aid money they receive each year, which experts say helps bring some security to the volatile region.

Mr Trump's latest comments appear to contradict his previous statement that the United States recognising Jerusalem as the Israeli capital would not impact the final status of the city in peace negotiations.

President Donald Trump is questioning USA funding to Palestinians amidst ongoing protests over the decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of |srael.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the move effectively disqualified Washington from serving as an effective intermediary in peace talks.

For their part the Palestinians have said they no longer consider the USA a fair broker in peace talks because of the White House's stance on the holy city.

A senior Palestinian official has responded with defiance to Donald Trump's threat via Twitter to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.

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The United States is the largest donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency which provides humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, with a pledge of almost $370 million as of 2016, according to UNRWA's website, CNBC reported.

"We are not taking a position on any of the final status issues including the final boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem", Trump said last month as he made his Jerusalem announcement.

"If the United States has any concern for its interests in the Middle East, it must abide by the principles and references of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, otherwise the US will push the region to the abyss", he said.

Abbas had earlier said that they would not accept any peace plan from the United States, after Trump's Jerusalem move.

The US spent $616 million on aid to the Palestinian territories in 2016, according to the US Agency for International Development, which includes humanitarian assistance, private sector debt payments and infrastructure development assistance.

But Hanan Asrawi, from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation blasted Trump for "sabotaging" peace talks.

Trump's action, which was predicated on a 1995 law, threw the USA behind Israel's long-held claim that Jerusalem is its capital, despite the Palestinian claim on the eastern part of the city.

The Palestinians are not for sale, a Palestinian leader said Wednesday morning, the day after American officials threatened to withhold Palestinian aid funds for recalcitrance in pursuing a US -led peace process.

Following diplomatic efforts by the Israeli delegation to the United Nations, the budgetary committee declined the Palestinians' requests.

The United States is the largest donor to the agency, with a pledge of almost $370 million as of 2016, according to UNRWA's website.

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