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Trump threatens to cut off US aid to Palestinians

Tracy Wilkinson, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Tuesday angrily threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Palestinians as punishment for what he called their failure to show "appreciation or respect" to the United States.

Writing on Twitter, the president compared the Palestinians to Pakistan, a nuclear-armed ally that abruptly drew his ire this week and a similar threat to drastically curtail aid.

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

Palestinian officials have said they can no longer use Washington as a broker to restart peace talks with Israel following Trump's Dec. 6 decision to overturn decades of U.S. policy and recognize the disputed city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and ultimately to move the U.S. Embassy there.

The Palestinians also claim part of Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual independent state. Until now, the United States and most of the world agreed the city's political status was a matter to settle in final peace talks.

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned any effort to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and the Palestinian leadership said it would not meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who had planned a trip to the region. That trip is on hold.

"(W)e pay the Palestinians HUNDRED (sic) OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect," Trump wrote on Twitter. "(W)ith the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

 

The United States does not pay large amounts of money directly to the Palestinian Authority, the government that rules over parts of the Palestinian West Bank. Instead, most money goes to the U.N., refugee or aid agencies and even Israel to pay for roads, welfare, schools, security and other Palestinian projects.

Separately, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said Tuesday that the administration was planning to cut off one of those organizations, the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, until the Palestinians "return to the negotiating table."

UNRWA, which receives around $300 million annually from the U.S., for years has been the lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It was not clear if Haley was threatening to cut all U.S. support for the agency.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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