After starting 2018 by suspending military aid to Pakistan, President Trump has now set his sights on cutting off US money going to the Palestinian Authority.
The day after taking Pakistan to task for taking billions of dollars in US money while providing a safe haven to terrorists, President Trump sent out a pair of tweets that leveled accusations at the Palestinian Authority that they accept US aid but don’t want to make efforts to reach a peaceful situation 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
The latest developments with the Palestinian Authority follow the United States recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After the president’s announcement, the Palestinian Authority said that this announcement was “the end of the US involvement in the peace process.”
The announcements come two weeks after reports initially surfaced that the Trump administration was going to withdraw from the current arrangements and relationships with the Palestinian Authority and their leader Mahmoud Abbas.
The sanctions reportedly consist of eight points:
- The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan under preparation in Washington will not be submitted to the Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority, but only to Israel and relevant Arab governments.
- Interactions between the United States and Palestine are to be suspended, from the most senior levels all the way down to day-to-day interactions. The Trump administration has notified Palestinian and other Arab parties to stop addressing queries on political and economic matters to the United States Consulate in Jerusalem, as they will not be receiving any answers in return.
- The status of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C. will be reevaluated, with a likely outcome of it being shut down.
- Palestinian officials will no longer be invited to Washington, D.C. by the United States government, to include the State Department and US Department of Treasury.
- They will no longer be welcome at the White House or the National Security Council where United State’s Middle East policy is designed and developed. Senior officials in the US government congratulated the senior Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat on a recovery from illness, while warning him that he would no longer be received at the Trump White House.
- The Trump administration will not make any public announcement of the cutoff of financial aid to the Palestinians. Since the funds are mostly earmarked for specific economic projects, each allocation will simply be held back on the pretext of the need for a “reappraisal.”
- The United States will halt its estimated one billion dollars in annual contributions to the UN Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA).
- The Trump administration requests that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar freeze or slow their economic aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Aid from the United States is one of the main sources of revenue for the Palestinian Authority. When President Trump tweeted out his threats to end foreign aid to Pakistan, US Ambassador Nikki Haley confirmed the following day that $255 million in funding to Pakistan had indeed been suspended. In 2017, the United States paid $291 million to Palestine; projections for 2018 were forecasted to be $251 million in aid. The move to suspend this funding would likely be devastating to the Palestinian Authority, possibly forcing them to the negotiations table with a more open mind to compromise.