President Trump threatened Tuesday to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars of annual aid to the U.N.'s relief agency for Palestinian refugees, dealing another blow to the prospect of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Trump tweeted, “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.”
Trump’s comment on Jerusalem contradicts his statement, made just a few weeks ago, that his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would not impact the final status of the city in peace talks. Trump’s tweet came just after Israel’s parliament passed a new law Tuesday that would make it far more difficult for the government to divide Jerusalem as part of any future negotiated settlement.
Israel seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967 and has occupied the territory ever since. Palestinians, however, have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, and both the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly have passed dozens of resolutions calling for Israel to end its occupation.
A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared, “Jerusalem is not for sale.” And senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement, “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!” Click here to see our interview with Hanan Ashrawi.