President Donald Trump stonewalled Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu when the Israeli leader asked for U.S. funds previously earmarked for the Palestinian Authority but lying unused to be transferred to the PA to fight terrorism.
Trump refused the request, saying, “If it is that important to Netanyahu, he should pay the Palestinians [the] $12 million,” according to an Axios report on Wednesday.
The Israeli request came after the State Department discovered $12 million that had been withheld from the Palestinians amid broader U.S. aid cuts, but had not been reallocated.
Israel wanted the money to go to PA security forces, who have been working with it for some years in thwarting terrorist activities, a program that all sides have recognized as a model for Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.
When senior White House officials conveyed the Israeli request to the president, Trump reportedly pushed back and said the policy was to stop the aid to the Palestinians as long as they continued refusing to engage with the administration.
The money was never transferred.
The White House would not comment on the story.
Ironically, Netanyahu himself has been a leading advocate of cutting U.S. funding to the Palestinians. He asked the White House to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) over the agency’s bias against Israel; and the PM also requested that the U.S. cut funding over the payment of salaries to imprisoned terrorists.