WASHINGTON, Jan 3, (Agencies): Acknowledging his push to broker peace in the Middle East has stalled, President Donald Trump appeared to threaten to cut off US aid money to the Palestinian Authority, asking why the US should make “any of these massive future payments” when the Palestinians are “no longer willing to talk peace.” Trump, in a pair of tweets, said “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,” he wrote. Trump infuriated Palestinians and Muslims across the Middle East when he announced late last year that the US would consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move its embassy there, upending decades of US policy and igniting protests. While the Palestinians haven’t closed the door to a potential deal with Israel, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the announcement had destroyed Trump’s credibility as a Mideast peace broker, calling the decision “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”
Senior Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement Wednesday that Trump had “singlehandedly destroyed the very foundations of peace” with his Jerusalem declaration. Tuesday’s tweets are a tacit admission by Trump that his decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has thrown a wrench into his administration’s plans to restart the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, which he had dubbed “the ultimate deal.” Trump tasked son-in-law Jared Kushner with restarting the effort, and brought his former attorney, Jason Greenblatt, into the White House to lead the negotiations.
Trump’s Mideast peace team had held meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders for nearly a year ahead of an expected peace proposal. But by recognizing Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, Trump was seen by the Palestinians as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict. The Palestinians seek east Jerusalem — which Israel captured in 1967 — for their capital.
Trump said his decision merely recognized the reality that Jerusalem already serves as Israel’s capital and wasn’t meant to prejudge the final borders of the city. In his tweets, Trump argued his decision had taken “Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more.” When Trump declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital, he insisted, counterintuitively, that the move would improve, not hurt, prospects for clinching a peace deal. In the days after the decision, Trump administration officials said the strategy was based on the notion that Israel had lost faith in the US 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 US officials argued at the time, and Israeli officials quietly indicated that they could potentially do so. No one spelled out, however, what the Palestinians would receive in return.
Jordan on Tuesday condemned the passage in the Israeli Knesset of a bill that requires a two-thirds majority in the legislature for relinquishing any part of Jerusalem under any future peace accord. In a press statement, Jordanian State Minister for Media Affairs and official government Spokesman Mohammad Momani said East Jerusalem is part of the territories occupied in 1967 and that the city is a final status issue, whose fate should be determined through negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis according to relevant international laws.
Momani stressed that all unilateral moves to impose new realities on the ground or alter the status of Jerusalem are null and void under the international law, including the bill, which was passed late yesterday. He warned against the gravity of steps Israel had taken recently, including the Jerusalem bill and a vote in the ruling Likud Party’s Central Committee to extend the Israeli law to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, which, he said, would undermine the two-state solution. The only solution to the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, he stressed, is the two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.
said that there is no alternative to the internationally-backed twostate solution to solve the conflict and achieve security and stability in the region. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) Salim Al-Zanoun has urged the Arab countries to rupture relations with any state that recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital or moves embassy to the city, in line with a resolution of the 11th Arab Summit, Jordan, 1980. In a statement distributed by the Amman-based PNC, Al-Zanoun said the 1980 resolution was reaffirmed by the Arab Summits in Baghdad, 1990, and Cairo, 2000.