In modern times, a world leader can easily shake up the geopolitical stage with a single tweet. Naturally, this is exactly what happened yesterday after President Donald Trump suggested on social media that he may cease all U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority. According to Trump, this party is “no longer willing to talk peace,” referring to their declarations that negotiations cannot move forward after his Jerusalem move.
In a pair of tweets, the U.S. president complained that America pays the Palestinians “HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue … peace treaty with Israel.” In addition, Trump said that Jerusalem, which he described as the “toughest part of the negotiation,” is already off the table. In addition, he asked why should his administration “make any of these massive future payments to [the Palestinians]?”
Naturally, this was a very aggressive move that got an immediate response. Unsurprisingly, Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi claimed that they will not be blackmailed by Trump. Also, he stated that the American leader has sabotaged what he described as their “search for peace, freedom, and justice.” In addition, Ashrawi said that Trump is daring to blame the Palestinians for the “consequences” of his own actions on this delicate matter.
In December, Trump shook the world by announcing that the U.S. would finally consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move its embassy there. While this promise was made by every single U.S. president since Bill Clinton, no one dared to materialize it. After all, each one of them was eventually convinced that by fulfilling this promise, the Middle East crisis would escalate to unprecedented levels of chaos and violence. Fortunately, this scenario didn´t become real.
On his part, President Trump has long said he wants to broker Mideast peace, calling it “the ultimate deal.” In order to make this happen, he tasked son-in-law Jared Kushner to restart the effort. In addition, he brought his former attorney Jason Greenblatt into the White House in order to lead the negotiations in the best way possible.
For nearly a year ahead of an expected peace proposal, the president´s Mideast peace team had held meetings with Palestinian, Israeli, and Arab leaders. However, Trump was seen by the Palestinians as siding with Israel on the most sensitive issue in the conflict by recognizing Israel´s claim to Jerusalem. After all, they seek east Jerusalem for their capital.
Unsurprisingly, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas assured that this announcement destroyed Trump´s credibility as a Mideast peace broker. In fact, Abbas called the decision “a declaration of withdrawal from the role it has played in the peace process.”
The Palestinian Authority has not moved forward with any peace talks since the Jerusalem move. Recently, it was known that after expressing dismay with Trump´s decision, he spurned a visit by Vice President Mike Pence.
On Twitter, the U.S. President also issued a threat to cut off foreign aid dollars to a list of nations that don’t reciprocate. Trump wrote that “it´s not only Pakistan” the country that America pay billions of dollars for nothing.
Experts believe these actions represent a striking departure from bipartisan American practice. In addition, they claim these moves reflect Trump´s transactional view of geopolitics. Of course, they back these ideas with the fact that U.S. leaders of both parties have long utilized foreign assistance dollars to promote America interests in foreign nations. However, it is also a fact that these actions haven’t received the expected results. After all, anti-American sentiments seem more vibrant than ever in the Middle East.
…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 president´s envoy to the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, foreshadowed his warning earlier Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council. She pointed out Trump doesn’t want to give any more funds until the Palestinians are willing to return to the negotiation table in order to look for a peaceful solution to the delicate conflict.
The U.S. Ambassador stated that the Trump administration still very much wants to have a peace process, and explained that nothing has changed. However, she said that it is quite ironic how the Palestinians are refusing to sit at the negotiating table but still ask for aid. This way, Haley said that the United States is not going to give the aid. Also, she pointed out that the Trump administration is going to make sure that this party eventually comes back to the peace negotiations.