Trump: Palestinians left peace table, ‘why should we make payments to them?’

“With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Trump tweeted.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News

President Donald Trump backed his envoy to the United Nations by threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians unless they return to the negotiating table with Israel.

At a press conference at the UN on Tuesday, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley fielded questions about US funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN agency responsible for funneling aid to so-called Palestinian refugees.

Haley responded to a question regarding whether the US 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.”

“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,” Haley emphasized, without clarifying whether the term “situation” referred specifically to UNRWA’s operations.

Haley stressed that the US was seeking to revive the peace process. “The Palestinians now have to show the world they want to come to the table,” she said. “As of now, they’re not coming to the table, but they ask for aid. We’re not giving the aid, we’re going to make sure they come to the table and we want to move forward with the peace process.”

Haley made her remarks against the backdrop of an announcement in December that the US recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and plans to move its embassy there, which was met by a UN resolution condemning the move. The Palestinians announced shortly after that the US will no longer play a role in mediating an agreement with Israel.

‘No appreciation or respect’

Several hours later, Trump gave credence to Haley’s statement by tweeting that “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 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?” he stated on Twitter.

Last month, the UN’s Administrative and Budgetary Committee rejected a request to increase funding for UNRWA for 2018-2019.

Following diplomatic efforts by the Israeli delegation to the UN, the budgetary committee declined the Palestinians’ requests.

“It is inconceivable for the UN budget and the funds of countries intended for humanitarian assistance and development to be diverted toward incitement and be turned into a political battering ram,” Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon.

The Palestinians stated on several occasions that they have abandoned US-led negotiations and instead will act to obtain full Palestinian United Nations (UN) membership, seek further Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and prosecute Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

These moves are meant to “face all these plans aimed at liquidating the Palestinian national project,” Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Tuesday.