President Donald Trump began the new year with a tweet which threatened the continuation of foreign aid to Pakistan, due to their “lies & deceit” and lack of cooperation in hunting down terrorists within their borders.
That threat was then extended to the Palestinians, who Trump thinks have not appreciated or respected the “hundreds of millions of dollars” America gives them every year in aid. They have also pulled away from peace negotiations with Israel following Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
Now this week Fox Business reported that Trump spoke at length about foreign aid and the Middle East peace process while meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the global economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.
The president expressed his disappointment that Palestinian leadership had rejected a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence when he was in Israel earlier in the week, and noted that aid to Palestinians was “on the table” as a bargaining chip for Palestinian participation in future negotiations on a peace process.
.@POTUS: "When [the Palestinians] disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great @VP to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support… that money's not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace." https://t.co/lItdoJfZwk pic.twitter.com/PN3pFVrcpe
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 25, 2018
Fox pointed out that the Palestinians have received more than $5 billion in aid from the U.S. since the 1990s, on average around $400 million per year since 2008, though Trump’s administration recently withheld some of that aid earmarked for the corrupt United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which deals with Palestinian refugees.
According to Politico, Trump said his decision on Jerusalem had taken the capital city “off the table” with regard to future peace talks, but that the foreign aid they received was very much in play going forward.
“The money is on the table. The money was never on the table,” Trump said. “I’ll tell you upfront, we give them tremendous amounts, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, that money is on the table.”
“Because why should we do that as a country if they’re doing nothing for us?” he continued. “And what we want to do for them is help them. We want to create peace.”
“That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace, because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace too or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer,” Trump added.
According to The Times of Israel, President Trump focused on the foreign aid to Palestinians as a key bargaining tool in future peace talks, expressed disbelief that the tactic of withholding aid was never really considered before and made it clear that Palestinians would need to cooperate going forward if they wished to continuing receiving such aid.
“If you look back at the various peace proposals, and they are endless, and I spoke to some of the people involved. And I said, ‘Did you ever talk about the vast amount of funds, money that we give to the Palestinians? You know, we give hundreds of millions of dollars.’ And they said, ‘We never talk about it,’” Trump said.
“Well, we do talk about it,” he continued. “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.”
For his part, Netanyahu praised the Jerusalem announcement as “historic” and countered the prevailing media narrative that it had set the peace process back by stating his belief that the simple recognition of reality moved the process forward.
Trump concluded his remarks with an emphasis on America’s continued commitment to the peace process, and insinuated that his people already had acceptable proposals for both sides drawn up that would be unveiled at a later date.
As for the Palestinians and a continuation of the foreign aid they rely upon, well, they will just have to tone down their rhetoric, pull back the terrorists they support and willing engage in the peace process if they wish to keep receiving it. A truly novel idea.
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