In a series of tweets on Tuesday, US President Donald Trump threatened to withhold future aid payments to Palestinians, accusing them of being "no longer willing to talk peace" with Israel".
…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?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Trump's tweets are set against the backdrop of a unilateral decision taken by the US President last month to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of the Holy City as the capital of Israel, generating outrage across the Arab and Muslim world and concern within the international community.
While Trump had previously stated that the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital would not impact the final status of Jerusalem in peace negotiations, in his tweets he said: "we have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table."
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) responded to Trump's threats in a thread on Twitter, saying that 'Palestinian rights are not for sale'. Hanan Ashrawi, a senior member of the PLO, accused Trump of sabotaging the peace process, indicating that he has 'single-handedly destroyed the very foundations of peace.'
Palestinian rights are not for sale. By recognizing Occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital Donald Trump has not only violated of international law, but he has also singlehandedly destroyed the very foundations of peace and condoned Israel's illegal annexation of the city.
— Palestine PLO-NAD (@nadplo) January 3, 2018
We will not be blackmailed. President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!
End of the Statement #Palestine
— Palestine PLO-NAD (@nadplo) January 3, 2018
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, also condemned the threats, describing them as "cheap political blackmail."
"The US president's threats to cut off aid to UNRWA and the Palestinian Authority until we return to negotiations with the occupation is cheap political blackmail which reflects barbaric American behaviour."
تهديدات الرئيس الأمريكي ترمب بقطع المساعدات عن الأونروا والسلطة الفلسطينية حتى تعود للمفاوضات مع الاحتلال ابتزاز سياسي رخيص يعكس السلوك الأمريكي الهمجي.
— حركة حماس (@hamasinfo) January 3, 2018
Palestinians won't be blackmailed either by US administration or Israeli occupation.
— Hamas Movement (@HamasInfoEn) January 3, 2018
Trump's tweets were cheered by many of his American followers who were against the idea of American foreign aid:
While we are at it. Stop giving Israel Money. Stop giving Anyone MY Money. Who is the welfare queen exactly? Corporate America and Every country that takes MY tax money while people here starve.
— Gary Riehle (@Gary_Riehle) January 3, 2018
Stop paying and use the money to settle our own debts. 👴🏻☕️🇺🇸
— Grandpa Toms (@XoxoToms) January 4, 2018
However, many twitter users called him out on his threats.
Trump's bizarre vision for peace boils down to this: Any country that refuses to accept Israel's right to take all of Palestine needs to be punished economically, politically and militarily.
— Susi Snowflake (@palestininianpr) January 3, 2018
Likud just unanimously voted to annex large swaths of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, but you never hear, "The US to cut $3 billion a year in military aid after Israel refuses to enter negotiations"
— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) January 3, 2018
Hope I am wrong, but you did not take anything off the table, except Palestinians👌
— Petar Simic (@PDSimic) January 4, 2018
bro you can't negotiate when you make decisions without consulting any of the people actually involved in the negotiations
— Ella Pestine (@mozzarELLAstiks) January 4, 2018
What right do you have to assist #Israel in its theft of #Jerusalem? Do you not realize it is a violation of international law for Israel to continue claiming #Palestinian land? How do you expect this act to lead Palestinians to the peace table? #BDS
— T🥀 (@tcaLdarez) January 4, 2018
What gave you the right to Take Jerusalem off the table when negotiations hadn't been opened yet? And it is the Israelis who have been accused of human rights abuses, so we will continue to send them $3b+ (mostly for arms) while depriving the Palestinians of less than $1b in aid?
— Samantha Morris (@zoodles1219) January 4, 2018
What is there left to negotiate? Palestinians have absolutely nothing left, Israel has taken everything from them.
— SavePalestine (@savepalestine16) January 3, 2018
If the Palestinian leadership were to dissolve the Palestinian Authority due to the lack of funds, a distinct possibility if Trump cuts off all aid, Israel would have to assume its obligations under international law as the administrator of the occupied territories, making it responsible for delivering services to the Palestinians.
In fact, the majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are in favour of dissolving the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian American writer and political analyst Yousef Munayyer pointed out.
Munayyer maintained that it is Israeli lobby groups that would be most interested in stopping Trump from carrying out his threats.
This might be good domestic politics from Trump but the Israelis will be lobbying to keep the PA afloat because it subcontracts the occupation from Israel for cheap. https://t.co/lSJEi0Q8wf
— (((YousefMunayyer))) (@YousefMunayyer) January 2, 2018
Trump's threats to cut the PA funding will not affect the Palestinian Liberation project. It will only impact the US-ISRAELI plans to sustain Israeli occupation where funding was used to for these purposes.
— Dr. Ramy Abdu (@RamAbdu) January 3, 2018