Palestinian Authority figures railed against the United States over the announcement by the State Department that aid to the PA would be cut by more than $200 million. In an interview on the Lebanese Al-Medean outlet, PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that there would be no negotiations, and no peace without a Palestinian state with its capital in Yerushalayim. “We are reconsidering our relationship with Israel on all levels,” he said, adding that with its announcement, the U.S. had excluded itself from future talks.
In its announcement, the State Department said that after a review of assistance to the PA “to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer,” the U.S. had decided, “at the direction of the President, to redirect more than $200 million in [fiscal year 2017] economic support funds originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. Those funds will now address high-priority projects elsewhere.” The U.S. had originally allocated some $250 million for PA assistance this year.
In an interview with AP, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, said that the U.S. was trying to “blackmail” the PA into accepting American positions like Washington’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital.
Elaborating, veteran terror supporter and member of the PA parliament Hanan Ashrawi said that “the US administration is demonstrating the use of cheap blackmail as a political tool. The Palestinian people and leadership will not be intimidated and will not succumb to coercion. The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale. “The US administration has already demonstrated meanness of spirit in its collusion with the Israeli occupation and its theft of land and resources; now it is exercising economic meanness by punishing the Palestinian victims of this occupation. There is no glory in constantly bullying and punishing a people under occupation,” Ashrawi said.
In a statement, the PLO’s envoy to the U.S., Husam Zomlot, said that “weaponizing humanitarian and developmental aid as political blackmail does not work. Only a recommitment from this administration to the long-held US policy of achieving peace through the two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem the capital of the state of Palestine and respecting international resolutions and law will provide a way forward.”