After having already outraged the Palestinians by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, President Donald Trump again set the tone Thursday, threatening to cut off US aid if they did not return to peace negotiations.
“They disrespected us last week by refusing to receive our excellent vice president,” said Trump during a warm meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland .
“We gave them hundreds of millions” and “that money will not be paid to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he added, as negotiations have stalled since 2014.
The Palestinian answer to the President was quick: “Refusing to meet your oppressor is not disrespectful, it is self-respect,” said Hanane Achraoui, the high-ranking leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Roudeina once again rejected any US-mediated negotiation until the US recalls the decision announced on December 6 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“The US administration continues to exclude itself from the negotiating table if it does not reconsider its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” he told Journalists.
PLO Secretary General Saeb Erakat accused President Trump of “blackmailing and punishing the Palestinian people”.
“President Trump could buy a lot of things with his money, but he will not be able to acquire the dignity of our nation,” he said in a statement.
On the other hand, a smiling Benjamin Netanyahu after his meeting with the American president said he was ready to negotiate.
“I am ready for peace, I explained it to President Trump,” the Israeli prime minister told reporters. “I reaffirmed my desire, and the will of Israel, to make an effort to achieve peace with the Palestinians. ”
Palestinian leaders had refused to see the US Vice President who toured Egypt, Jordan and Israel from January 20-23.
“The most difficult subject of the discussions was Jerusalem. We removed Jerusalem [from the talks], so we do not have to discuss it anymore,” Donald Trump said Thursday in Davos.
“We have a peace proposal. This is an excellent proposal for the Palestinians… we will see what happens,” he continued.
The Israelis “want to make peace, and I hope the Palestinians want to make peace. If they want to, everyone will be satisfied in the end,” he concluded.
The US president revived the old feud over Jerusalem on Dec. 6 by announcing the city as the capital of Israel. He broke with decades of international consensus that the final status of the holy city – one of the most difficult issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – had to be resolved through negotiation.
Since then, 18 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in violence.
For the Palestinian leadership, this decision has completely discredited the United States in the role of mediator of the peace effort.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has frozen contact with US officials, seeking support elsewhere in his quest for an independent state.
The US representative to the UN, Nikki Haley, went on the attack on Thursday, accusing Abbas of lacking courage. “We will not run after a Palestinian leadership that does not have what it takes to achieve peace,” she said. “To achieve historical results, we need brave leaders,” she added.
Benyamin Netanyahu for his part reaffirmed that there was “no other honest intermediary and facilitator beside the United States […] It’s an illusion to think that there could be someone from elsewhere.”