Photo Credit: Alan Kotok from Arlington, VA, USA, via Wikimedia
Saeb Erekat

The Palestinian Authority on Thursday denounced President Donald Trump’s most recent statements, that Jerusalem is off the negotiating table and that the US wants to cut all aid to PA Arabs if they do not return to the negotiating table with Israel.

“If Jerusalem is off the negotiating table, then peace and the US are off the table as well,” said the PA statement, delivered by the WAFA official news agency.

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Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump, sitting next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, mentioned the “hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support” the US gives PA Arabs each year, and yet, he continued, they disrespected “our great Vice-President” Mike Pence by boycotting his visit earlier this week.

Therefore, Trump continued, “That money is on the table and it’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.”

“I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace and [the PA are] going to have to want to make peace ,too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told reporters in Ramallah Thursday that Trump’s “policy of threats, starvation and capitulation will not work with the Palestinian people.”

“The issue of Jerusalem is a sacred one. It is the key to war and peace in the region. It is not for sale with all the money in the world and the threat of cutting aid to UNRWA is totally unacceptable,” he said, referring to the US decision earlier this month to cut $65 million from its annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Abu Rudeineh announced that “unless the US administration retracts its decision regarding the occupied city of Jerusalem, it will have no role in the peace process. If Jerusalem is off the table, then the US will be off the table as well.”

PLO chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement, “President Trump’s statement only reaffirms that the US has disqualified itself from playing a role in achieving peace. His comments on Jerusalem should serve as a wakeup call for Arab leaders and decision makers, as well as to the rest of the world.”

“Jerusalem is not off the negotiations table; rather the US is outside the international consensus. Those who say that Jerusalem is off the table are saying that peace is off the table. The holy city is in the hearts of each and every Palestinian, Arab, Christian and Muslim, and there will be no peace without East Jerusalem being the sovereign capital of the State of Palestine,” Erekat added.

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