US denies it offered Palestinians $5 billion to jump-start negotiations

The money ostensibly would have gone to build infrastructure and economically develop the Palestinian Authority, in exchange for returning to the negotiating table.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The American administration denied on Thursday a report in Israeli business paper Globes claiming that White House officials had offered the Palestinian Authority (PA) $5 billion in aid money to return to negotiations with Israel.

One of the people most heavily involved in creating the as-yet unrevealed American peace plan, Jason Greenblatt, tweeted a blunt rejection of the report.

“Myth: @GlobesEnglish ‘reporting’ that @POTUS is offering $5b to PA to return to the negotiating table.”

“It is an absurd idea to pay $5b for a party to ‘return to the negotiating table.’ How would that accomplish peace?” President Trump’s special representative for international negotiations added.

Greenblatt’s tweets were in line with what Trump told Jewish leaders in his call to them before the Jewish New Year, in which he said he told the Palestinians, “You’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying.”

Globes published what it called an exclusive story based on information given by “US diplomatic sources” that both Greenblatt and senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner had persuaded the president to offer the huge sum as a counterbalance to all the cuts in Palestinian aid recently announced by the White House.

Those cuts added up to over $500 million, including the cessation of all American contributions to UNRWA, which funds Palestinian organizations in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, and more than $200 million in bilateral assistance to the PA.

The European Union and Persian Gulf states would match the Americans, said the sources, meaning that the PA would receive a whopping $10 billion for sitting down with the Israelis and seriously looking for a solution to the decades-long conflict.

According to Globes, the message sent to the PA was not given as an ultimatum, but its meaning was clearly an either/or decision for Abbas. Either he lets the Authority crash due to the extreme underfunding of his regime – since it is doubtful that other countries would be willing to make up the loss – or he comes to the table and receives an amount of money that can realistically overhaul the Palestinian economy and give it a real chance to be independent.

The $5 billion figure was based on plans that have already been presented in international forums to create and develop general Palestinian infrastructure, and institutions in the water, energy and urban development sectors, such as those presented by the World Bank in July.