US President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday: “It’s not only Pakistan that we pay billions of dollars to for nothing, but also many other countries, and others. As an example, we 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?”
On Dec. 23, DEBKAfile reported that Trump had decided to cut aid to UNWRA, and his administration would no longer receive Palestinian officials. The US forks out around half a billion dollars a year to the Palestinian Authority, including $370m to UNWRA, making it the largest governmental donor. We also reported that the US president is coordinating his steps on the Palestinian issue with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which have already cut aid to the Palestinians. It remains to be seen whether the Europeans, Turkey and Jordan will make up the aid shortfall.
Following the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel last month, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said: “The United States has proven to be a dishonest mediator in the peace process” and he refused to receive Vice President Mike Pence during his since-delayed visit to the region.