Palestinian leaders will not be “blackmailed” after Trump threat

Vastavam web: Palestinian leaders said today they will not be “blackmailed” after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut aid worth more than USD 300 million annually, his latest provocative move that could upturn years of careful diplomacy.Relations between Trump’s White House and the Palestinians were already tense after the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month.Trump’s threat in a tweet yesterday to try to force the Palestinians into negotiations led to further outrage, though Israeli ministers lauded the move.

The Palestinians rely heavily on international aid, with many analysts, including Israelis, saying such assistance helps maintain stability in a volatile region.It was not immediately clear whether Trump was threatening all of the budget, worth USD 319 million in 2016, according to US government figures.
The United States has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional USD 304 million for UN programmes in the West Bank and Gaza.Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement that “we will not be blackmailed”.

“President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice,” she said.”Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!” However, several Israeli ministers voiced support for Trump, with the country’s right-wing government having seized on the US president’s support to push ahead with initiatives seen as dealing further blows to remaining hopes for a two- state solution.Trump came to office boasting that he could achieve the “ultimate deal” that secures peace in the Middle East, something that has eluded presidents since the late 1960s.

For most of the past half century the United States has been seen as the indispensable if sometimes imperfect arbiter of the peace process.Trump’s actions are likely to cast that further in doubt.He has heaped pressure on Palestinians to do a deal, threatening to close the de facto “embassy” in Washington in addition to recognising Israel’s contested claim on Jerusalem and now threatening aid.It also prompted Abbas — 82 years old and facing the prospect of entering the history books as the leader who “lost Jerusalem” to cancel a planned meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.

Christian and Muslim leaders in Egypt took similar steps.Pence was forced to delay a December visit to the Middle East until later this month, and aides on Tuesday rejected rumours of further delays.