U.S. to stop funding the Palestinians unless they change attitude toward peace and Washington

United States President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, in the Swiss city of Davos, during which he reaffirmed the close bond between Washington and Jerusalem and announced once again, the United States’ intention to relocate its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem by the end of next year. President Trump said, “We have discussions going with Israel on many things, including trade. But the big move and something that was very historic and very important was the fact that we will be moving our embassy, as you know, to Jerusalem. And, as we also know, that is way ahead of schedule by years, and we anticipate having a small version of it opened sometime next year. So, that’s a long time ahead of schedule. It’s an honor,” the American leader told Netanyahu, who in response thanked President Trump, for what he termed “the historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” a move the Israeli leader emphasized will “push peace forward, because it recognizes history, it recognizes the present reality, and peace can only be built on the basis of truth.” Netanyahu said, “Mr. President and I — I want to say something, because this is the first meeting we’ve had since your historic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move the embassy and now to expedite the movement of the embassy to Jerusalem. And I want to say that this is an historic decision that will be forever etched in the hearts of our people for generations to come. People say that this pushes peace backward; I say it pushes peace forward, because it recognizes history, it recognizes the present reality, and peace can only be built on the basis of truth. By recognizing history you’ve made it, and we will always remember that,” the Israeli leader asserted.

With regard to the deteriorating relations between the Palestinians and the U.S. Administration, which reached an all-time-low when the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank refused to meet with visiting Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump warned that unless the Palestinians change their attitude toward peace and the United States as a mediator, Washington would no longer provide the Palestinians with financial benefits. Trump said, “When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support, tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands — that money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace too — or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer,” the American leader warned.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority responded angrily to Trump’s warning and said that the American president could not buy the Palestinians with money and that they would not concede their dignity and their national rights. The Palestinian President’s spokesperson added in his statement that if Jerusalem – which the Palestinian demand as a capital for their future state – is off the table, then America is off the table as well. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also responded to Trump’s warning, levelling a warning of his own, in which “an insistence to take Jerusalem off the negotiating table would lead the Palestinians and Israelis to a dangerous cycle of violence.” Erekat said, “We also support you completely and your stalwart position on the Iran nuclear deal. You said it’s a disastrous deal. You said that if its fatal flaws are not fixed, you should walk away from it, and I want you to know that if you decide to do that, then we will back you all the way. We also appreciate the fact that you confront Iran’s aggression with us and with other parties in the region as never before. I’ve never seen the (inaudible) alliance between the United States, Israel and your other allies in the region as strong, as unified as it is under your leadership,” the chief Palestinian negotiator said

In response to the Palestinian condemnation of the United States Administration and its unwillingness to pursue a peace process under Washington’s mediation, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley emphasized that the United States will not “chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace.” Haley said, ; “The United States remains deeply committed to helping the Israelis and the Palestinians reach a historic peace agreement that brings a better future to both peoples just as we did successfully with the Egyptians and the Jordanians. But we will not chase after a Palestinian leadership that lacks what is needed to achieve peace. To get historic results, we need courageous leaders. History has provided such leaders in the past. For the sake of the Palestinian and Israeli people, we pray it does so again,” the American ambassador said in a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the Middle East.