Source: “We are deeply concerned that your strategy… is misguided.” – American Politics – Jerusalem Post

“I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying,” Trump said.

 SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 05:58
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks about the protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017

Over 30 Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill have sent a letter to US President Donald Trump expressing “concern” over his slew of cuts to Palestinian interests.

The letter, spearheaded by Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, warns that Trump’s apparently strategy of pressuring the Palestinians to the negotiating table with Israel would prove counterproductive.

“We are deeply concerned that your strategy of attempting to force the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table by withholding humanitarian assistance from women and children is misguided and destined to backfire,” the Democrats wrote. “Your proposed cuts would undermine those who seek a peaceful resolution and strengthen the hands of Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip, as the humanitarian crisis there worsens.”

On a high holy days call with Jewish leaders last week, Trump hinted at a pressure campaign on the PA designed to jumpstart the moribund peace process.

“I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying,” Trump said.

And Nikki Haley, who serves as the US ambassador to the UN and who has consulted closely with the peace team, also said that Palestinian rhetoric critical of the president contributed to the aid cuts. “Our job is not to take the beatings that you give us, saying we’re not kind to Palestinians and then turn around pay for them,” the envoy explained last month.

Over the course of a few short weeks, the administration has slashed aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, for east Jerusalem hospitals, for Palestinian-Israeli cooperation programs and direct assistance to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank itself. It also shuttered the PLO’s offices in Washington and revoked visas for its top envoy and his family.

Palestinian officials insist that any pressure campaign will fail, and continue to dismiss Trump as a fair arbiter of peace ever since he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year, moving the US embassy there from Tel Aviv in May.

Trump’s top aides are preparing a peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians that is said to include enterprising, detailed proposals for a comprehensive settlement to the conflict.

While they have not seen the plan, Palestinian leaders have already cast the plan aside as “dead on arrival” and warn that Trump’s peace team is attempting to change the “terms of reference” upon which negotiations would be based.

US officials responded to this criticism by cautioning all parties to wait to see their plan before judging it.


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