By Eshat Firat
RAMALLAH (AA) – Palestine on Thursday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying if Jerusalem is off the negotiating table, then peace and the U.S. are off it as well.
The remarks came after Trump threatened Palestinian authorities with aid cuts ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the forum and said Palestine should now negotiate with Israel.
"When they disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president [Mike Pence] to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid...money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said.
Last week, the U.S. State Department announced it was withholding $65 million in aid to Palestine “for further consideration”.
The U.S. fund cuts came a month after Trump sparked a world outcry by officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.
In response to Trump’s threats in Davos, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement that the U.S. would have no role in the peace process unless Washington retracted its decision on Jerusalem.
“If Jerusalem is off the table, then the U.S. will be off the table as well.”
Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), described Trump’s remarks as an act of “irresponsibility”.
“President Trump’s irresponsible statement during his meeting with the occupying state’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Davos only reaffirms that the U.S. is disqualified to play a mediating role in peace talks,” Erekat said.
Erekat said Trump’s threat to cut aid to Palestine unless it sat at the negotiating table with Israel “is blackmailing and punishing the Palestinian people”.
“Those who think Jerusalem is off the negotiating table should know that peace is also off that table,” Erekat said.
“It’s time to launch new initiatives to rescue the region from the international chaos which cannot satisfy anybody.”