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Trump says he won’t give aid to Palestinians unless they agree to peace deal

Gazan's gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA's funding, on January 28, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]
Gazan's gather outside the UN offices in Gaza to protest US cuts to UNRWA's funding, on January 28, 2018 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

US President Donald Trump yesterday confirmed that recent cuts in funding for Palestinians are intended to pressure their leaders to make political concessions, reported CBS News.

Speaking in a “conference call with Jewish faith leaders and rabbis”, Trump said he would not give money to Palestinians until they agree to make a peace deal.

“I stopped massive amounts of money that we were paying to the Palestinians and the Palestinian leaders. We were – the United States was paying them tremendous amounts of money,” he said.

“And 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.”

Read: The countdown begins for the death of UNRWA

Trump’s comments come a week after his administration ceased all funding for Palestinian refugee agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a serious blow for an agency that has received nearly 30 per cent of its budget from the US.

According to reports, Trump “also reiterated an argument he has made for moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognising it as the capital of Israel—that by removing the status of Jerusalem as a debatable issue, he has advanced the peace process.”

“We took it off the table,” he said. “And I think it’s actually going to help a lot in making a deal, as we say, with the Palestinians.”

Read: Mayor of Jerusalem to stop UNRWA’s operations

Responding to the president’s remarks, Palestinian diplomat Husam Zomlot told CBS News that “by weaponising the US humanitarian and financial aid to Palestine to bully Palestinians to the negotiating table, Trump has undermined US leadership beyond repair.”

“Trying to twist our arm vis-a-vis money is not only amoral, it doesn’t work with us,” he added.

US decision to cut UNRWA funding – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

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