Trump threatens to cut USA aid to Palestine

Knesset approves bill that prevents division of Jerusalem

The Palestinian Authority has been sharply critical of the Trump administration since the president's decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and to move the USA embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In the days after the decision, Trump administration officials said the strategy was based on the notion that Israel had lost faith in the U.S. as a committed partner during the Obama administration. "We're not giving the aid, we're going to make sure they come to the table and we want to move forward with the peace process".

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the US had given over $5 billion to the Palestinians since 1994, more than any other country.

"Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital [on December 6] and the Knesset's new "United Jerusalem" law represent a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and Jerusalem's political and religious identity", Abu Rudeineh said in a Tuesday statement.

In his tweets, Trump argued his decision had taken "Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more".

Abu Rdainah said the Palestinians were not against returning to peace talks that collapsed in 2014, but only on the basis of establishing a state of their own along the lines that existed before Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in 1967's Six-Day War, according to Reuters.

The threat comes on the same day that the USA withheld $225 million in aid to Pakistan over terrorism concerns.

While the Trump administration stressed that the embassy move was not meant to derail its push for a lasting peace in the region, it inflamed tensions on the ground.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was sharply critical of that move, saying it amounted to the USA abandoning the role it had played in the peace process.

Early Tuesday, the Israeli parliament voted to make it more hard for both sides to negotiate Jerusalem in any peace negotiations. The status of the city has always been a sticking point in any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

According to the U.S. president, the Palestinians had no legitimate reason to be furious over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital because Israel would have had "to pay" for his declarations with concessions in future negotiations.

The status of Jerusalem - has been the biggest issue between Palestine and Israel.

"The president is a master dealmaker and is as committed to trying to achieve the ultimate peace deal as ever but he will not tolerate falsehoods being spread about America and our positions - and he certainly will not spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize those who spread them", said the official.

Trump tasked son-in-law Jared Kushner with restarting the effort, and brought his former attorney, Jason Greenblatt, into the White House to lead the negotiations.

This is not the first time Trump has used USA purse-strings to threaten foreign countries. "But I have a feeling we will get there eventually. (Trump) is saying the time has come to stop saying flattering words (to the Palestinians)". On Monday, Trump criticized another country - Pakistan - for what he called "lies and deceit" and threatened to cut off aid.

Egypt, which co-drafted the United Nations resolution, got $1.2 billion (€1.05 billion) in USA aid a year ago.

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