RAMALLAH, January 3, 2017 (WAFA) – Responding to US President Donald Trump’s threat to cut financial aid to the Palestinians if they do not resume negotiations with Israel, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, said on Wednesday that “Jerusalem and its holy places are not for sale, not with gold nor with silver.”
Abu Rudeineh stressed that the Palestinian leadership is not against returning to negotiations but that “real peace and negotiations should be based on Arab and international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative leading to the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
“If the United States has any concern for its interests in the Middle East, it must abide by the principles and references of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, otherwise the US will push the region to the abyss,” he said.
Trump and his UN ambassador Nikky Haley said on Tuesday that the US is going to cut funds to the Palestinians and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to make sure the Palestinians return to the negotiating table with Israel.
“[W]e pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” said Trump in a tweet. “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. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
“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,” said Haley.
Palestinian-US relations have soared after Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that has provoked strong Palestinian, Arab and international protest and condemnation.