President Donald Trump threatened Thursday to withhold aid money from the Arabs squatting on Israeli land (Palestinians) until they return to peace talks with Israel as he sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of an economic summit in Switzerland.
Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital roiled Arab nations and led the Arab squatters (Palestinians) to refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the Mideast this week. They also declared a new U.S.-led peace push dead, saying Washington can no longer be trusted as an honest broker, AP News reports.
Trump said that decision has consequences. The U.S., he said, gives “hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support” to the Palestinians, and “that money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”
The Palestinian envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, accused the president of “backstabbing” the Palestinians. In a speech at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, Zomlot said Trump had reneged on his promise not to prejudge solutions to the conflict and chided the president for acting “triumphant” and “victorious” in Davos.
“We don’t understand, triumphant and victorious, what is it? For killing the only possible solution? For pushing us to the Armageddon?” Zomlot said.
Trump’s comments came shortly after he arrived at the World Economic Forum, which brings together world leaders, business executives and celebrities. His appearance is aimed at luring foreign investment to the U.S. and highlighting his “America first” economic agenda, despite its seeming odds with a gathering that celebrates global cooperation and free trade.
Washington has contributed over $5 billion in economic and security aid to the Palestinians since the mid-1990s. Annual economic aid since 2008 has averaged around $400 million, much of it devoted to development projects. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said all bilateral assistance to the Palestinians, including economic security aide, is at risk if the Palestinians don’t come to the negotiating table.
Last week, the Trump administration moved to withhold some — but not all — of a scheduled aid payment to the United Nations agency that assists Arab squatter (Palestinian) refugees. The Trump administration said it would provide $60 million, while keeping $65 million until the U.N. body undertakes a “fundamental re-examination.” Nauert said that action is unrelated.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
January 25th, 2018