Palestinians will not be 'blackmailed' by Trump funding threat: senior official


Trump's tweets late Tuesday afternoon came almost a month after he became the first sitting US President to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, drawing Palestinians into the streets in protest and causing Palestinian leaders to reject the US's decades-old role as the central negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

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

President Trump ignited liberal meltdowns when he seemed to suggest he would be cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority as they were no longer willing to negotiate in peace talks.

In his remarks, Trump explicitly said that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the U.S. would be moving its embassy in the country to the holy city from Tel Aviv.

On Tuesday, he accused the Palestinians of refusing to negotiate peace with Israelis, and indicated that USA aid should be enough to get "respect" and "appreciation" by way of negotiating with Israel.

He added: 'We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. He also said the United States will shift its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

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"We will not be blackmailed", she said.

It is not obvious whether the US will seek to defund UNRWA in its entirety or just withdraw contributions from Washington until, as Nikki Haley has said, the Palestinians "return to the negotiating table" with Israel. In 2016, the USA gave the agency over $368 million and financed more than 30 percent of its overall budget.

Trump previously threatened to withhold USA funding from U.N. members that voted to rebuke the United States over his decision on Jerusalem. The threat of pulling the more than $300 million off the table may be an attempt to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. The Palestinians now have to show they want to come to the table. "As of now, they're not coming to the table, but they ask for aid. We're going to make sure that they come to the table".

"If the United States is keen about peace and about its interests it must abide by that", he said.

The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that the law is a "declaration of war on the Palestinian people", the Jerusalem Post reported.

The refugee question is a major obstacle to a two-state solution which aims to forge an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel based on 1967 borders, and which would make East Jerusalem the capital of Palestine.