Palestinians call US threat to cut financial aid ‘blackmail’

Palestinian officials are calling President Trump’s threat to cut financial aid over failed peace talks ‘blackmail.’

But there are fears the move could have dire humanitarian consequences.

CGTN’s  Noor Harazeen reports.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to cut U.S. financial aid to the Palestinians saying, “We pay the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect.” He also accused the Palestinian leadership of being unwilling to join peace talks with Israel.

But a spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told the AFP news agency on Wednesday, “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale, for gold or billions.”

Also on Tuesday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. threatened to cut funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the group that helps Palestinian refugees.

“This decision will put hundreds of thousands of refugees, especially from the Gaza Strip, in a very difficult and dangerous humanitarian situation,” said Amjad Al Shawa, the director of the NGO Network in Gaza. “The United States is required to abide by international law and its moral, legal and political commitments. We cannot talk about cutting humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in return for a political position under these pressures.”

Haley’s comments don’t make it clear whether the U.S. is seeking to defund or withdraw contributions to UNRWA until the Palestinians “return to the negotiating table” with Israel.

Founded in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees helps more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees. Services provided by UNRWA include health care, education, and social services.

CGTN met with Siham Abu Ramadan, a 70-year-old refugee from Jaffa, who might be affected by the latest U.S. threats, if implemented.

“The package of aid that we receive from the U.S. and UNRWA is barely enough,” said Ramadan. “We cannot dispense with it, especially the flour, rice and sugar. How can I provide food for us without it?”

Meanwhile, the Islamic militant group Hamas described Trump’s threat as “cheap political blackmail.” They’re calling on Palestinian supporters to form a united front against Trump’s position on Palestine.