PA Slams, Israeli Officials Praise U.S. Threat to Cut Off PA Aid

YERUSHALAYIM -
Kulanu MK Michael Oren. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority officials were up in arms over the threat by U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley that Washington could cut off aid to the PA if it did not begin negotiating in earnest with Israel. The comments, which he attributed to U.S. President Donald Trump, were “ridiculous,” said PA minister Jibril Rajoub. Speaking to Walla News, Rajoub said that “if the Americans think that they can make us forget about the Palestinian state for money, they are fooling themselves.”

Speaking to reporters, Haley said that “the Palestinians now have to show their will that they want to come to the table. As of now, they’re not coming to the table, but they ask for aid. We’re not giving the aid. We’re going to make sure that they come to the table. And we want to move forward with the peace process.” Her comments were largely taken to mean that the U.S. would cut off aid if the Palestinians continued their years-long refusal to restart negotiations with Israel, without preconditions.

Other PA officials were just as indignant. Speaking to CNN, PA senior official Mustafa Barghouti said the PA didn’t really need the U.S., as money supplied by Washington accounted for just 16 percent of the Authority’s budget. “I don’t think the president understands what he is saying,” Barghouti said. “We saw this when he completely took Israel’s side on the matter of Yerushalayim, and now he is making the U.S. irrelevant in the matter of peace. The president can halt aid, but in any event it is in Israel’s interest that we get this aid. The Palestinians are providing security for Israel.” Hanan Ashrawi, another PA official, said that with the declaration, “Trump is violating international law” and “ruining the peace process.”

But some Israeli officials congratulated Haley and Trump for the comments. MK Michael Oren (Kulanu), the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., said that “finally there is an American president who understands the Middle East. Those who pull out of negotiations should pay a price.”

Oren was joined by Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, who said in a social media post that Trump and Haley “were pulling off the mask of hypocrisy of the Palestinians.” The two “were telling the world the obvious truth — that the PA refuses to make peace. They laugh at your efforts, and if so, why fund them? This should be the rule for the U.N. and UNWRA, as well,” Kara added.