President Donald Trump appeared
to threaten millions of dollars in U.S. aid to the Palestinians
in a series of tweets Tuesday after a decision to also withhold
funds from Pakistan earlier in the day.
“It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for
nothing,” the president wrote Tuesday afternoon. “We pay the
Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no
appreciation or respect.”
It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to
for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As
an example, we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF
DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They
don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
January 2, 2018
Trump continued to say that the Palestinians no longer wanted
to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel and referenced his
December announcement that the U.S. would recognize Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital ― one of the most controversial
foreign policy decisions of his first year in office.
…peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the
toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but
Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the
Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we
make any of these massive future payments to them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)
January 2, 2018
The U.S. had budgeted $251 million in
aid for the Palestinian-occupied West Bank and Gaza
Strip in 2018, according to government data.
On Dec. 5, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel and directed the State Department to move
the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
With the move, the president fulfilled a campaign pledge
popular among some evangelical Christians and right-leaning
Jewish groups. He touted the change as a new approach
after decades of failed peace efforts, saying it was meant to
signal “the beginning of a new approach to conflict between
Israel and the Palestinians.
In the short-term, however, rather than resetting the
negotiations, the decision sparked widespread
anger among Palestinians and deeply disappointed some
of the U.S.’ most loyal international partners.
Jerusalem is home to Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites.
Israel has long proclaimed the city its “undivided” capital,
while Palestinians had hoped its eastern neighborhoods would
one day become the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
Trump’s decision to recognize the city in its entirety as
Israeli set off weeks of protests
in the West Bank and Gaza, some of them violent. As
international leaders warned that the U.S. severely complicated
the peace process, Palestinian leaders posited that the U.S.
had lost its role as an honest broker in negotiations between
Israelis and Palestinians.
“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Muslim leaders
just days after the move. “The United States has chosen to lose
its qualification as a mediator …. We will no longer accept
that it has a role in the political process from now.”
Palestinians launched weeks of protests against Trump’s
decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
(Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Trump’s threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians over their
anger surrounding his Jerusalem decision was previewed by the
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, earlier
Haley explained that Trump was considering cutting funding to
the United Nations’ Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees
(UNRWA). “The President has basically said he doesn’t want to
give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the
Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table,”
Haley had told
The U.S. is UNRWA’s largest donor,
followed by the European Union and Saudi Arabia, although the
agency is chronically underfunded. UNRWA is one of the main
organization providing the Palestinian territories with
long-term support in education, infrastructure and primary
The U.S. had budgeted more than $250 million for the
West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2018. (Mohamad Torokman /
Gaza and the West Bank suffer from flagging economies and
high unemployment rates, partially due to what the United
Nations has called an
“imposed Palestinian economic dependence on Israel.” A
significant drop in foreign aid, violence between Israel and
Palestinian militants in Gaza and bureaucratic red tape in
areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority have also
contributed to an economic slowdown, the World Bank said
Trump’s outburst Tuesday echoes his other complaints
concerning the amount of funding that the U.S. provides other
nations and international organizations. In the past, the
U.S. president has threatened to cut aid to countries that
disagree with his policies and railed against allies for not
contributing enough money to multilateral organizations like
Such disapproval played out at the U.N. on Tuesday after
Haley said America would withhold $255 million
in aid from Pakistan, saying the country had “played a
double game for years” and failed to support the American
effort to fight terrorism.
“They work with us at times, and they also harbor the
terrorists that attack our troops in Afghanistan,” Haley told
reporters at the U.N. on Tuesday. “That game is not
acceptable to this administration. We expect far more
cooperation from Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.”
Nick Robins-Early contributed reporting to this
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