The Palestinian Authority (PA) is right to stand firm against the US threat last week to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. The threat came after PA President Mahmoud Abbas responded to last month’s US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by saying the Palestinians will no longer accept the White House as a mediator, and “will not accept any plan” put forward by it.
The PA reacted to the US threat with defiance, saying Jerusalem is “not for sale.” Its strident stand is welcome, not least because, given the PA’s history of kowtowing to Israel and the US, such a stance was not a foregone conclusion.
But the PA is adept at self-preservation, even at the expense of Palestinian rights, and since a meek response to the Jerusalem decision could have spelled suicide for the Authority amid a wave of Palestinian anger, its defiance is as much in its own interests as that of its people (according to an opinion poll in October, half of Palestinians believe the PA is a burden on them).
President Donald Trump’s rationale for threatening to cut US aid to the PA is yet more evidence of how unhinged he is. Having boasted that he took “Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table,” he condemned the Palestinians for not showing “appreciation or respect.”
In expecting the PA to be grateful for his brazen disregard for Palestinian rights, he himself highlighted the futility of engaging with his administration (US media reported this week the extent of his son-in-law and Middle East “peace” envoy Jared Kushner’s business dealings with Israel).
If the PA’s defiance of the US threat is to call its bluff, it is likely to work. Less than two weeks prior, Trump threatened to withhold “billions” of dollars of US aid from countries that planned to vote in favor of a UN resolution rejecting the US’ decision on Jerusalem. Read More …