Trump threatens to cut U.S. aid to Palestinians

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at a more amicable time

Donald Trump's comments are causing unrest in the region.

The December 6 announcement concerning the disputed city led Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to say the U.S. could no longer play any role in the Middle East peace process.

The poll also revealed that a smaller majority, 59 percent, of Jewish Israelis believes that Trump understands Israel's real interests (versus 37 percent who thinks he does not).

As one of the authority's largest doners, Trump could inflict "great pain" on the Palestinians, says The Washington Post.

Only 6 percent of Palestinian citizens thought similarly.

Mr Trump infuriated Palestinians and Muslims across the Middle East when he announced late a year ago that the United States would consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move its embassy there, upending decades of U.S. policy and igniting protests.

On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump said "We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect".

Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said "Palestinians' rights are not for sale. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

Mustafa Barghouti, 2005
Mustafa Barghouti, 2005 Olivier Fitoussi

The Palestinians rely heavily on global aid, with many analysts, including Israelis, saying such assistance helps maintain stability in a volatile region.

The threat from Trump came in a tweet on Tuesday, which said the U.S. could cut its $300 million annual aid to Palestinians because it gets "no appreciation or respect" in return.

"Haley responded to a question regarding whether the United States would continue to fund the agency in light of the Palestinians' threat to "unleash all the weapons we have in the UN", by saying, "[President Trump] doesn't want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table, and what we saw with the [UN Jerusalem] resolution was not helpful to the situation".

It was not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth $319 million in 2016, according to USA government figures. "We're trying to move for a peace process but if that doesn't happen the president is not going to continue to fund that situation".

Efforts to harness improved Arab-Israel relations to push a peace deal have been at least temporarily derailed by Trump's Jerusalem recognition, breaking with decades of U.S. policy.

Trump tasked son-in-law Jared Kushner with restarting the effort, and brought his former attorney, Jason Greenblatt, into the White House to lead the negotiations.

He accused the Palestinians of recalcitrance in what he described as their refusal to negotiate a peace deal with Israel.

Trump's recent decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel's capital has emboldened Israel's leadership to take dramatic measures to safeguard their claims to land in Jerusalem.

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