'Jerusalem not for sale': Palestinians slam Trump's aid threat

'Jerusalem not for sale': Palestinians slam Trump's aid threat
Palestinians have described President Donald Trump's threat to cut US aid to Palestinians, currently worth more than $300 million a year, as "blackmail".
2 min read
03 January, 2018
Palestinians "will not be blackmailed" said a senior Palestinian official [Getty]

Jerusalem is "not for sale" said the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' office on Wednesday after the American president's threat to cut annual aid.

"Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions," Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP.

"We are not against going back to negotiations, but (these should be) based on international laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital," Abu Rudeina added.

A senior Palestinian leader also slammed President Donald Trump's threat to cut funding to Palestine, calling his tweets "blackmail".

Trump "singlehandedly destroyed the very foundations of peace" said Hanan Ashrawi in a statement on Wednesday, by recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Tuesday, President Trump admitted the Middle East peace process was in difficulty and threatened to cut US aid to Palestinians, currently worth more than $300 million a year.

"We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect," Trump tweeted. 

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

Trump's tweets on Palestinian aid followed earlier tweets on aid given to Pakistan "foolishly" only to get nothing in return but "lies and deceit". 

Ashrawi added that the Palestinians "will not be blackmailed" and that "Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice".

Palestinians have received over $5 billion in economic and security aid from the United States since the mid-1990s, with nearly $100 million given annually since 2008 for the Palestinian Authority's security services.

Trump broke with decades of US policy last month by recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital and declaring he would move the country's embassy from Tel Aviv to the contested city.

Palestinian president Abbas said the United States had disqualified itself as a mediator. "We will no longer accept that it has a role in the political process," he said at the time.

Jerusalem is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Trump's move has caused widespread anger in the region and drawn international condemnation.

Both the Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip have seen daily protests and Palestinians have clashed with Israeli troops across the West Bank and along the Gaza border. Eleven Palestinians have been killed since Trump's announcement on December 6.

Israel regards Jerusalem as its "undivided" capital, a position nearly the entire world rejects saying its status should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians.

Under international law, East Jerusalem is considered occupied Palestinian territory.