US President Donald Trump has threatened to withhold future aid payments to the Palestinian Authority (PA), saying the body is no longer willing to engage in peace talks with Israel.
Trump made the announcement in a series of tweets on Tuesday, admitting that the peace process brokered by Washington had stalled and threatening to cut the US aid to Palestinians, currently worth more than 300 million dollars a year.
“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” Trump tweeted.
“With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” he noted.
Earlier in the day, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley had also disclosed plans by Washington to cut funding to a UN agency that provides humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees.
“The President has basically said he does not want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table,” Haley told reporters when asked about future US funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
“The Palestinians now have to show to the world that they want to come to the table. As of now, they’re not coming to the table but they asked for aid. We’re not giving the aid, we’re going to make sure that they come to the table and we want to move forward with the peace process,” she said.
Official reports said the US was the largest donor to the agency, with a pledge of nearly 370 million dollars as of 2016.
Earlier this week, the Palestinian Authority temporarily called back its ambassador to Washington to discuss the future of its ties with the United States.
Tensions between the US and Palestinians started escalating after Trump announced last month that Washington would recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel and would relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
Palestinians condemned the decision, asserting that the US has no credibility as a Middle East peace broker.
The dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”
In an attempt to avert the resolution, Trump had warned that “we’re watching,” threatening reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council.
Israel, however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
Jerusalem al-Quds remains at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians hoping that the eastern part of the city would eventually serve as the capital of a future independent Palestinian state.