Trump questions U.S. aid to Palestinian Authority without peace talks


President Donald Trump says he’s directing the State Department to begin preparations to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump says the move is “a recognition of reality.” (Dec. 6)

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WASHINGTON — President Trump questioned why the U.S. should pay the Palestinian Authority “hundreds of millions of dollars a year” as peace talks continue to stall, just weeks after he announced a controversial plan to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders do not give the U.S. any “appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night. If they are “no longer willing to talk peace,” Trump added, “why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

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. 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?

The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget request sought $260 million for law enforcement and economic development programs in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Associated Press. The U.S. has also pledged to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel over ten years, starting in the next fiscal year.

Last month, Trump broke with decades of U.S. foreign policy to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin the multi-year process of moving the embassy from Tel Aviv.

While the Trump administration stressed that the embassy move was not intended to derail its push for a lasting peace in the region, it inflamed tensions on the ground. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Trump of unilaterally withdrawing from its role as mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The status of Jerusalem has historically been a major sticking point in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. While Israel sees Jerusalem as its undivided capital, Palestinians also claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

“Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks,” Trump said in December.

Striking a Middle East peace accord — which Trump has previously called the “ultimate deal” — has been a big priority of his administration. White House adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, was asked to kickstart the effort. And last year, Trump traveled to Israel on his first foreign trip as president, where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and traveled to Bethlehem to speak with Abbas.

On the ground, he expressed optimism about the peace effort. “I heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all,” Trump said in May. “But I have a feeling we will get there eventually. I hope.”

The jab at the Palestinian Authority was not the first target of Trump’s ire this week. On Monday, Trump criticized another country – Pakistan – for what he called “lies and deceit” and threatened to cut off aid. The president accused Pakistani leaders of giving “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help.”

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