Palestinians condemned as blackmail on Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to withhold future aid payments over what he called the Palestinians’ unwillingness to talk peace with Israel.
Trump drew praise from a cabinet minister in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government but a warning from a former Israeli peace negotiator of the dangers in cutting off financial assistance to the Palestinians.
On Twitter on Tuesday, Trump said that Washington gives 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 … with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, said in response: “We will not be blackmailed.”
Palestinian anger at Trump is already high over his Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a declaration that also generated outrage across the Arab world and concern among Washington’s Western allies.
Commenting on Trump’s tweets, Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: “Jerusalem is not for sale, neither for gold nor for silver.”
Israel, which withdrew troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, has called the pre-1967 war West Bank boundaries indefensible and has pledged to hold on to all of Jerusalem forever.