Trump Threatens To Cut Palestinian Aid Unless They Resume Peace Talks

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A senior Palestinian official on Wednesday said that US President Donald Trump's threat to slash hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid would lead to children starving in refugee camps and that the America leader was emboldening Israel to commit crimes against worldwide law.

The Palestinians last month walked away from Trump administration attempts to revive the peace process after Trump broke with 70 years of US executive branch policy and recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Trump has, in the past, voiced support in principle for legislation that would substantially cut U.S. aid to the PA if it continues its practice of paying the families of terrorists who kill Israelis.

What did Mr Trump say?

Acknowledging his push to broker peace in the Middle East had stalled, Trump on Tuesday threatened to cut off all aid to the PA, asking why Washington should make "any of these massive future payments" when the Palestinians were "no longer willing to talk peace".

Ms Haley issued a stern warning the United States would be "taking names" of any countries who supported the resolution condemning the actions of the Trump administration.

How did the Palestinians react?

Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP news agency: "We are not against going back to negotiations, but [these should be] based on worldwide laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital".

His comments came hours after Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestinian National Council, said the Palestinians would not be "blackmailed" by United States threats.

Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, said "you can not on the one hand receive $300 million in American aid per year and at the same time close the door on negotiations".

"We're trying to move for a peace process, but if that doesn't happen, the president is not going to continue to fund that situation", she added.

How does USA aid now reach the Palestinians?

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The Times notes this move "to make it far more hard to create a Palestinian state" follows actions that "have come on multiple fronts, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's party for the first time has urged the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and the nation's top legal officers pressed to extend Israeli law into occupied territory".

Of the $260m in bilateral aid the United States provided, only a relatively small amount went directly to the Palestinian Authority.

Those projects are run by non-governmental organisations involved in humanitarian assistance, economic development, democratic reform, improving water access and other infrastructure, healthcare, education, and vocational training.

US President Donald Trump speaks with reporters as he arrives for a New Year's Eve gala at his Mar-a-Lago resort, December 31, 2017, in Palm Beach, Fla.

Israel, which withdrew troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, has called the pre-1967 war West Bank boundaries indefensible and has pledged to hold on to all of Jerusalem forever.

Israel receives more than $3bn in military aid per year from the US.

Palestinians have said that these tweets prove how the U.S. can not be a neutral party in any form of peace talks.

United Nations member states also voted decisively at the General Assembly in favour of a resolution effectively calling the USA declaration "null and void" and demanding it be cancelled. Trump's Mideast peace team had held meetings with Israeli, Palestinian and Arab leaders for almost a year ahead of an expected peace proposal.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, was also angry.

Michael Herzog, an Israel-based fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who has participated in most of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, said that many Israelis supported some cuts in external funding to the Palestinian Authority, given that part of its budget goes to supporting the families of Palestinians who carried out terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan ruled east Jerusalem and the West Bank, no attempt was made by any Arab government, let alone any Palestinian leadership, to create a self-governing, autonomous or independent Palestinian state. The annexation was "not recognized internationally", as Reuters notes, but the Israeli government considers the entire city its "eternal and indivisible" capital.

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