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Abbas adviser: Trump’s Twitter storm on aid has ‘absolutely no justification’

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US threatens to withhold aid cash to Palestinians, January 3, 2018 (Reuters)

US threatens to withhold aid cash to Palestinians, January 3, 2018 (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump’s tweets threatening to cut aid to the Palestinians have “absolutely no justification,” a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

Late Tuesday evening, Trump tweeted “with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them,” referring to the hundreds of millions of dollars the US makes in aid payments for the benefit of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“This statement has absolutely no justification. We wanted a peace process with the Americans and we worked hard for it. We gave Trump all the attention and time. We went to the White House to see him and welcomed him here in Bethlehem. But then he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, taking the single most important part of negotiations and a two-state solution off the table,” Nabil Shaath, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s international affairs adviser, told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call. “So he wants to punish us from protesting and not accepting his position on Jerusalem…This shows that Trump is not a serious man.”

On December 6, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated a process to relocate the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, breaking with decades of American policy.

Palestinian leader Abbas says Trump’s ‘crime’ over Jerusalem precludes US peace role (Reuters)

After Trump announced his decisions on Jerusalem, Abbas declared that the US no longer can play the role of interlocutor in the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Shaath added that Trump is mistaken to say the Palestinians no longer want a peace process.

“We have not given up on peace. But we are simply looking for other partners to go to an international peace process. We still are working hard for a peace process, but not one monopolized by Mr. Trump,” he said.

Shaath, along with PLO Executive Committee Member Ahmad Majdalani, traveled to Russia and China earlier this month to explore the possibility of bringing more countries into the peace process.

Israel has long only accepted the US as an interlocutor in the peace process, turning down initiatives to bring other parties into it.

When asked how the Palestinians would deal with a possible cut in aid from the US, Shaath said, “This would make things more difficult,” adding that the Palestinians will formulate a response at the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council later this month.

The PCC, the PLO’s second highest decision-making body, is slated to meet on January 14 in Ramallah.

According to PLO Executive Committee Member Wasel Abu Yousif, the meeting will aim “to set forth a strategy for the coming period in light of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum also slammed Trump’s tweets, calling them “cheap political blackmail that reflect the barbaric and immoral American attitude in dealing with the justice of the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian people’s rights.

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