President Donald Trump started 2018 out with a bang with a series of fiery tweets.
In his first tweet of the year, he blasted Pakistan for the countries lack of counter-terrorism efforts and now he is also calling out Palestinians for taking U.S. funding while refusing to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel.
“It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, 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,” tweeted Trump on the 2nd. “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?”
In response, the Senior Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi stated that Trump has “sabotaged” the peace efforts in the Middle East.
“We will not be blackmailed. President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!” said Ashrawi.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the Trump Administration was planning on halting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which assists Palestinian refugees, until the peace negotiations with Israel is revisited.
“He doesn’t want to give any additional funding until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table, and what we saw with the resolution was not helpful to the situation,” said Haley. “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 again defended Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that will eventually move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv.
“I stood proudly, even if I was the only hand in the Security Council, to fight for the will of the people of the United States. They wanted to see the embassy moved to Jerusalem and we followed through with that,” said Haley. “We very much still want to have a peace process, nothing changes with that. The Palestinians now have to show the world they want to come to the table. 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.”
The announcement to recognize Jerusalem as the capital was criticized by Arab foreign ministers. The Arab League called for Trump to reverse the decision and called the move a “dangerous violation of international law.”
Ashrawi expressed similar sentiments and said the decision “singlehandedly destroyed the very foundations of peace.”
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also said the U.S. announcement was “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”
But, the decision was a strategic move by Trump in an effort to show that the U.S. restores its trust in Israel.
“In the days after the decision, Trump administration officials said the strategy was based on the notion that Israel had lost faith in the U.S. as a committed partner during the Obama administration. With trust in Washington restored, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government would be more inclined going forward to make tough concessions that would ultimately be needed for a peace deal, the U.S. officials argued at the time, and Israeli officials quietly indicated that they could potentially do so,” writes ABC News.
Trump also alluded that more countries are bound to lose U.S. funding in the near future.
“It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others,” tweeted Trump Monday. “No more.”
Author’s note: It’s a ridiculous notion to think that the U.S. can’t negotiate peace while endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump is doing just that by negotiating with money and by applying pressure. Trump is effectively pushing Palestinians to the negotiating table. No one has done this in the last decade and it’s about time. Terrorists have continued to send rockets into Israel and when Obama was in office he just ignored this and took no action.
Even if some Palestinians are protesting the Jerusalem decision, who cares? There will always be critics. But the Israelis can handle it, especially if it leads to a new balance.