Jerusalem not for sale, says Palestinian leader

A Palestinian demonstrator hurling stones at Israeli troops during clashes at a protest near the West Bank city of Nablus last Friday against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A Palestinian demonstrator hurling stones at Israeli troops during clashes at a protest near the West Bank city of Nablus last Friday against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.PHOTO: REUTERS

RAMALLAH (Palestinian Territories) • Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas' office has said that Jerusalem is "not for sale", after US President Donald Trump threatened to cut annual aid of more than US$300 million (S$399 million) to force them to the negotiating table.

"Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Palestine and it is not for sale for gold or billions," Mr Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told Agence France-Presse, referring to Mr Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinian anger at Mr Trump is already high over his Dec 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a declaration that generated outrage across the Arab world and concern among Washington's Western allies.

Israel seized the eastern part of Jerusalem - including the Western Wall - in the Six-Day War of 1967, and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community. Israelis see the whole city as their indivisible capital, while the Palestinians view the east as the capital of their future state.

Mr Trump's declaration last month led Mr Abbas to say the US could no longer play any role in the peace process. "We are not against going back to negotiations, but (these should be) based on international laws and resolutions that have recognised an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital," Mr Abu Rudeina said.

Mr Trump made the funding threat in a tweet on Tuesday, saying: "We pay the Palestinians hundred of millions of dollars a year and get no appreciation or respect.

"With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Trump was threatening to cut all of the budget, worth US$319 million in 2016.

The US has long provided the Palestinian Authority with much-needed budgetary support and security assistance, as well as an additional US$304 million for United Nations programmes in the West Bank and Gaza. Such programmes are seen by many analysts, including Israelis, as helping to maintain stability in the Palestinian territories.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2018, with the headline 'Jerusalem not for sale, says Palestinian leader'. Print Edition | Subscribe