‘We have taken Jerusalem off the table’ — Trump bullies Palestinians

What hubris. Donald Trump tweeted yesterday at 4:37 in the afternoon that he was going to punish the Palestinians for not negotiating, and admitted that he’d preempted those negotiations by taking the biggest issue off the table:

[W]e pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue….peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?

CNN notes the contradiction— Trump had said he wasn’t prejudicing the status of Jerusalem with his announcement on December 6; but here he admits that he took the issue off the table, gave it to Israel. And the world took Palestine’s side.

Mahmoud Abbas says Jerusalem cannot be sold, per AP and the Guardian:

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions.”

Hanan Ashrawi called it a “blackmail.” Haaretz’s Noa Landau reports:

In first Palestinian response to Trump’s tweet, PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi says tonight: “We will not be blackmailed. Palestinian rights are not for sale. President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame us for his irresponsible actions”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, addressing Trump directly on CNN asks, “What’s left to negotiate?”

“So, Mr. Trump, your art of the deal. What’s left to negotiate?” referring to Trump’s 1987 book, “Trump: The Art of the Deal.”

“You are moving from negotiating to dictating and then you are threatening us if we don’t accept your dictations –”

The Guardian says Trump “has dramatically escalated his conflict with the Palestinian leadership,” that the U.S. gives about $300 million to the Palestinian Authority.

The AP reports Palestinian leaders as defiant, and saying Trump’s indifference to international law could send the region into the “abyss.”

Palestinian officials voiced outrage on Wednesday… calling his tweets “blackmail” in the aftermath of the U.S. administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said that “if the United States is keen on its interests in the Middle East, it must implement the international resolutions which call for a state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“Without this, the United States will push the region to the abyss,” Abu Rdeneh added.

Chris Gunness of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, issued a statement saying the U.S. gives UNRWA about 40 percent of its $874 million budget.

UNRWA has not been informed by the United States administration of any changes in US funding to the Agency….

The top ten donors give UNRWA over eighty per cent of our income. We remain grateful to them for their support. We will work relentlessly with all our partners to cover the funding requirements for 2018. UNRWA’s contribution to human development – notably through education and health care services – is described as indispensable to the dignity of Palestine Refugees and the stability of the region.”

Recall that the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December was embraced by Israel and rejected by the world, the General Assembly voting 128-9 against Trump’s move. The U.S. was joined by Israel, Togo, Guatemala, Honduras, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. At that time, Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the U.N., made a speech echoing the grandiose egocentrism of her boss.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. This vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

The charade of the peace process, in which the U.S. argues Israel’s side, is now completely transparent in the eyes of the world; and Palestinians have gained prestige.