‘We have taken Jerusalem off the table’ — Trump bullies Palestinians

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What hubris. Donald Trump tweeted yesterday at 4:37 in the afternoon that he was going to punish the Palestinians for not negotiating, and admitted that he’d preempted those negotiations by taking the biggest issue off the table:

[W]e 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?

CNN notes the contradiction— Trump had said he wasn’t prejudicing the status of Jerusalem with his announcement on December 6; but here he admits that he took the issue off the table, gave it to Israel. And the world took Palestine’s side.

Mahmoud Abbas says Jerusalem cannot be sold, per AP and the Guardian:

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions.”

Hanan Ashrawi called it a “blackmail.” Haaretz’s Noa Landau reports:

In first Palestinian response to Trump’s tweet, PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi says tonight: “We will not be blackmailed. Palestinian rights are not for sale. President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice. Now he dares to blame us for his irresponsible actions”

Mustafa Barghouti echoes the theme on CNN: If Trump wants to take away the money, “let him take it away.”

“But one message he should understand. We, the Palestinians, will not sell our land, or Jerusalem, for a few hundreds of millions of dollars. We have struggled for more than 70 years to get our freedom and a few million dollars will not stop us.”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat, also on CNN, asks, “What’s left to negotiate?”

“So, Mr. Trump, your art of the deal. What’s left to negotiate?… “You are moving from negotiating to dictating and then you are threatening us if we don’t accept your dictations –”

 The Guardian says Trump “has dramatically escalated his conflict with the Palestinian leadership,” and that the U.S. gives about $300 million to the Palestinian Authority.

The AP reports a Palestinian leader  saying Trump’s indifference to international law could send the region into the “abyss.”

Palestinian officials voiced outrage on Wednesday… calling his tweets “blackmail” in the aftermath of the U.S. administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rdeneh said that “if the United States is keen on its interests in the Middle East, it must implement the international resolutions which call for a state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

“Without this, the United States will push the region to the abyss,” Abu Rdeneh added.

Chris Gunness of the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, issued a statement saying the U.S. gives UNRWA about 40 percent of its $874 million budget.

UNRWA has not been informed by the United States administration of any changes in US funding to the Agency….

The top ten donors give UNRWA over eighty per cent of our income. We remain grateful to them for their support. We will work relentlessly with all our partners to cover the funding requirements for 2018. UNRWA’s contribution to human development – notably through education and health care services – is described as indispensable to the dignity of Palestine Refugees and the stability of the region.”

Recall that the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December was embraced by Israel and rejected by the world, the General Assembly voting 128-9 against Trump’s move. The U.S. was joined by Israel, Togo, Guatemala, Honduras, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. At that time, Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the U.N., made a speech echoing the grandiose egocentrism of her boss.

America will put our embassy in Jerusalem. That is what the American people want us to do, and it is the right thing to do. No vote in the United Nations will make any difference on that. This vote will make a difference on how Americans look at the UN and on how we look at countries who disrespect us in the UN. And this vote will be remembered.

The charade of the peace process, in which the U.S. argues Israel’s side, is now completely transparent in the eyes of the world; and Palestinians have gained prestige.

Update: Michael Koplow of the Israel Policy Forum has a sharp analysis of Trump’s tweet as it applies to Israel “getting” Jerusalem. On twitter (and h/t Jewish Insider):

His intention [in Trump’s December 6 announcement] … was not to recognize only part of Jerusalem as Israel’s and maintain East Jerusalem as being subject to negotiations. His intention was to recognize the unified city as the capital
So if you are the Israelis, you should be pretty happy, right? Except that the rest of his tweet blows up any notion that he views Israel any differently than every other country on Earth – as subject to a quid pro quo transactional relationship
The “but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more” is somewhat confusing to parse, but I’m pretty sure what he meant is that in return for the gift of recognizing Israeli claim to all of Jerusalem, Trump was going to extract something big from Israel in return
In other words, this was not a no-strings-attached pro-Israel position.

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Trump didn’t just pull that phrase (“off the table”) out of his twitter arse. Nikki Haley used it three times in her Dec 10 Face the Nation appearance. Unfortunately John Dickerson didn’t pursue the apparent contradiction with stated policy about not prejudicing the final status of Jerusalem. Instead he changed the topic to Korea. Hopefully the press will pursue more clarity from this ridiculously incoherent administration.

It is time to dust off the keys to the occupation and hand them back to Israel. It is time to go to the UN and demand recognition , (for the record) of the Palestinian State. This should be followed by the formation of a Committee to demand Equal Rights for Palestinians as Citizens of Israel. Clearly Trump and his coterie of Zionist fellow “negotiators “have been planning this outcome for quite some time.Looks as… Read more »

Israel has pauperised the local Palestinians via the occupation God only knows what this has to do with separating dairy and meat. The international community feeds 80% of Gaza. This is in order to stop Palestinian society from collapsing but also in order to protect Israel from the consequences of its own nihilism. If Trump cuts the American component of the money the international community spend to mitigate Israeli pauperisation all bets are off .… Read more »

It was never on the table. tRUMP is a lying, thieving crook who thinks diplomacy is nothing more than a real estate deal, it requires no finesse or intelligence, just strong arm tactics. He has declared war on any possibility of peace. Speaking of declaring war, guess who has a bigger, stronger nuclear button than DPRK? And speaking of more incitement, who told Pakistan they were doing nothing and have done nothing to assist the… Read more »

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-russia-steve-bannon-michael-wolff Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president’s son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”, according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian. Trump-Russia investigation: the key questions answered   Read more Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack… Read more »