President Trump said Thursday he has a “proposal” for Mideast peace, but won’t push for talks until Palestinians show “respect” for his decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
During a meeting at the World Economic Forum with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump also threatened to withhold U.S. aid to the Palestinians “unless they sit down and negotiate peace” with Israel.
Trump, who address the business and political leaders on Friday, inflamed the Palestinians and drew condemnations from most other world leaders for his controversial decision to relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv.
There has been a longstanding international consensus that the future of Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestinians claim as their capital, should be decided by negotiations on creating two independent nations living side-by-side.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s envoy to Washington referred to Trump’s remarks as blackmail. “Financial pressure and blackmail does not work,” said Husam Zomlot , head of the PLO General Delegation to the U.S.
He rejected Trump’s claim that Jerusalem is off the table in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and that Palestinians disrespected America. Jerusalem is “the mother of all issues” between Palestinians and Israelis, he said.
Mideast peace talks have been stalled for years because of Israeli anger over unrelenting attacks by Palestinians and Palestinian fury over Israel’s often violent control of the West Bank.
Trump said Thursday Palestinians disrespected the U.S. by refusing to meet with Vice President Pence during his recent trip to the Middle East. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas blamed Trump’s Jerusalem decision for the snub.
Trump did not offer any details of his peace proposal. His son-in-law and Mideast negotiator, Jared Kushner, has been trying to restart the dormant negotiations without apparent success.
Netanyahu said Trump’s Jerusalem decision “pushes peace forward” because it “recognizes the present reality.” He also brought up the Iran nuclear deal, which Israel opposes. “You’ve said that if its fatal flaws are not fixed, that you should walk away from it … I want you to know that if you decide to do that, then we will back you all the way.”