The Palestinian government’s refusal to work with U.S. leaders has not prompted President Donald Trump to adopt a softer stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict. In fact, he appears to be doubling down on his negotiating style.
Trump has now threatened to withhold aid to Palestine if local leaders continue to boycott peace talks with the U.S.
The issue came up Thursday during the president’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we’re just not going any further,” he said of the Palestinian Authority amid a meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu.
Palestinian leaders refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his trip to Israel last week, according to The Washington Examiner — an example Trump cited as unacceptable behavior.
Their refusal to continue negotiations with the U.S. comes after Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced plans to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The move was highly controversial as Palestine also claims the historic city as their capital. The Palestinian Authority, along with Arab and Muslim leaders, have remained livid at the White House’s decision.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his government immediately severed talks with the U.S. following the formal recognition of Jerusalem.
Nevertheless, Trump argues that his administration has formulated a “great” peace negotiation process for the Palestinian Authority, but leaders must return to the negotiating table if they wish to move forward.
“That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” Trump stated, referring to U.S. aid to Palestine.
“Why should we do that as a country if they’re doing nothing for us?”
The White House’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict highlights the sharp change in course from the previous administration.
The Obama White House — after spearheading the controversial Iran Deal and leaving Israel out to dry on a United Nations vote — developed a strenuous relationship with President Netanyahu.
However, President Trump has been a strategic ally of the Israeli government, following through on his campaign promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing it as the country’s capital.
“The fact is … there were never any deals that came close because Jerusalem — because you could never get past Jerusalem,” Trump said, detailing why his Jerusalem move was best for the negotiation process in the long run. “By taking it off the table, that was the toughest issue.”
Trump has now indicated he may scrap the Obama-era Iran Deal entirely, referring to it as the “worst deal ever.”
“If you decide to do that, then we will back you all the way,” Netanyahu remarked over Trump’s possible move to rescind the Iran Deal. The Israeli president was an ardent opponent of the deal while it was being formulated by world leaders.
In a move that appears to be an undermining of the Trump’s presidential authority, former Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian leaders in London and badmouthed the current administration.
In a meeting Hussein Agha, a close confidant of Abbas, Kerry said that they should “be strong” and “hold on” when it comes to dealing with Trump. Kerry also suggested that somehow Trump would not be president for any longer than a year.
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