U.S. President Donald Trump had tough words for the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization on Thursday in a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Trump was deeply displeased over the rude manner in Palestinian Authority officials publicly made it clear that Vice President Mike Pence was “unwelcome” in their territory. It is equally clear that Trump has been paying close attention, albeit quietly, to the vicious insults that have been flung his way as well by PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and his associates.
Trump confirmed to journalists that the U.S. Embassy will indeed open in Jerusalem by 2019. “It’s way ahead of schedule, by years,” he said, “and we anticipate having a small version of it open sometime next year. So that’s a long time ahead of schedule.”
But Trump had a warning to share.
“You know, we give billions and billions of dollars to these countries – it amounts to hundreds of billions – and they vote against us – and I made a very simple statement – that I’m watching – and we ended up getting 68 votes either yes or we’ll take a neutral position, which was okay too, but we ended up getting a lot of votes. I would say we were virtually going to get none.
“We gave virtually billions of dollars away every year to countries and in many cases those countries don’t even support us. They don’t even support the United States.
“Israel has always supported the United States, so what I did with Jerusalem was my honor, and hopefully we can do something we peace. I would love to see it,” the president said.
“You know, if you look back at the various peace proposals – and they are endless – and I spoke to some of the people involved, and I said, did you ever talk about the vast amount of funds, money that we give to the Palestinians? Give. You know, hundreds of millions of dollars. And they said, we never talk about it.
“Well, we do talk about it, and when they (Palestinian Authority officials) disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands — that money is on the table.
“That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” Trump stated, “because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace and they’re going have to want to make peace too, or we’re not going to have anything to do with them any longer.
“This was never brought up by other negotiators,” he added,”but it’s brought up by me. So I will say that the hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem.
“We took Jerusalem off the table. So we don’t have to talk about it anymore,” Trump contended. “They never got past Jerusalem.” He glanced at Israel’s prime minister.
“We took it off the table; we don’t have to talk about it anymore, you won one point and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation – if it ever takes place. I don’t know that it ever will take place,” Trump added, almost as an afterthought.
“But they have to respect the process also, and they have to respect the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years in terms of monetary support and other support, so we’ll see what happens with the peace process. But respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we’re just not going any further.
By taking it off the table, that was the toughest issue. And Israel will pay for that. Israel – something’s going to happen. They’ll do something that’s going to be a very good thing. But they want to make peace and I hope the Palestinians want to make peace and if they do everybody’s going to be very happy in the end.”
In response to a reporter’s question about whether the U.S. president had actually read the personal insults hurled at him by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, Trump replied that he had avoided reading specific articles containing those epithets.
“No, I didn’t really read his remarks,” he said. “I think I’m probably better off not seeing them.
“But we’ve done a lot for them, and hopefully they’re going to make peace for their people.
“You know what? It’s many years of killing people. It’s many years of killing each other. They have to be tired and disgusted of it. So let’s see what happens. I think eventually very sound minds — I hope — sounds minds are going to prevail.
“And it would be a great achievement of mine, Trump said. “I’ve said it from Day One, if we could make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if we do that, I would consider that one of our truly great achievements.
But the money is on the table, you know? The money was never on the table. I tell you up front. We give them tremendous amounts – hundreds of millions of dollars a year – that money is on the table – because why should we do that, as a country, if they’re doing nothing for us? And what we want to do for them is help them. We want to create peace, and save lives. We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens.
“But the money is on the table.”