Palestinians reject pressure from ‘oppressor’ Trump after new aid threat

US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Davos on Thursday (AFP)

MEE and agencies Thursday 25 January 2018 16:01 UTC Last update: Thursday 25 January 2018 16:32 UTC

Source: Palestinians reject pressure from ‘oppressor’ Trump after new aid threat

{Moral of the story, ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ – LS}

The Palestinians have rejected a threat from US President Donald Trump to withhold aid if they did not pursue peace with Israel, with a senior official labelling him an “oppressor”.

Trump, speaking after a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, said he aimed for peace in the Middle East.

He also said the Palestinians had snubbed the United States by not meeting Vice President Mike Pence during a recent visit. He said he hoped “sound minds” would prevail among Palestinians to pursue peace.

But then he warned: “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.”

The Palestinians rejected his threat, and a spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas said they would not meet with the US administration until it withdrew its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Another senior Palestinian official, Hanan Ashrawi, said “not meeting your oppressor is not a sign of disrespect; it is a sign of self-respect.”

Last week, the US said that it would withhold at least $65m in pledged aid to UNRWA, the UN agency that provides services for Palestinian refugees.

It also threatened to also make further payments conditional on other countries “stepping up to the plate” and contributing more.

During the meeting with Netanyahu in Davos, Trump tried to convince a deeply sceptical Arab world that he could still be an honest broker.

“We have a proposal for peace. It is a great proposal for the Palestinians,” Trump claimed, adding that Israel would also be forced to make concessions.

But Trump also doubled down, saying he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem as soon as next year, despite no suitably sized building existing.

“We anticipate having a small version of it open sometime next year,” Trump said.

Netanyahu warmly welcomed Trump’s “historic decision”, saying it “recognises history, recognises a certain reality, built on the basis of truth.”

On Tuesday, Palestinian factions in the West Bank called a general strike to protest Pence’s visit to Jerusalem, which followed Trump’s December announcement that the US embassy would move there from Tel Aviv.

Pence began a visit to Israel on Sunday after being praised as a “great friend” by Netanyahu and shunned by the Palestinians over US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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