Hanan Ashrawi to Trump: 'We will not be blackmailed'

Hanan Ashrawi scolds US president after his threat to cut aid worth 'hundreds of millions of dollars' to Palestinians.

    A senior Palestinian official has responded with defiance to Donald Trump's threat via Twitter to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority.

    Hanan Ashrawi's rebuke followed the US president's tweet admitting that the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and warning Palestinians that they could lose US aid worth more than $300m a year.

    "We will not be blackmailed," Ashrawi said in a statement on Wednesday.

    "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!"

    In his tweet on Tuesday, Trump said: "We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.

    "With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

    Relations between his administration and the Palestinian Authority have deteriorated since Trump decided last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

    US aid to the Palestinian Authority stood at about $319 million in 2016, according to US government figures.

    Jerusalem controversy

    The US gives Israel annual military aid of $3.1bn. Next year, that figure will increase to $3.8bn under a 10-year deal agreed by Barack Obama shortly before his presidency ended.

    Palestinian officials had said they would "no longer accept" any peace plan put forward by the US following Trump's unilateral declaration on December 6, when he also announced that the US would begin a process to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    No country currently has its embassy in the city, which is home to holy religious sites and has particular significance for Muslims, Christians and Jews.

    Trump's announcement touched off deadly protests in the occupied Palestinian territories and major rallies in support of the Palestinians across the Muslim world.

    A resounding majority of UN member states also defied threats by Trump to declare the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital "null and void".

    Trump has previously said he wants to relaunch frozen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in search of the "ultimate deal".

    Jerusalem's status is an extremely sensitive aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Israel claims the city as its capital, following the occupation of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, and considers Jerusalem to be a "united" city.

    Palestinian leaders have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

    They fiercely oppose any changes that could be regarded as legitimising Israel's occupation and annexation of the city's eastern sector.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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