For the past few decades, the United States has provided aid to the leadership of the Palestinian refugees in hopes of assisting in the peace process. Of course, it didn’t work. But now we’re finally going to hit them where it hurts – the wallet. The Trump administration has decided to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority. Naturally, the international community did not respond positively to the president’s decision. However, Palestinian leadership has made it clear that they are not willing to negotiate a viable peace agreement. So why should we keep paying them?
U.S. to Cut Millions of Dollars in Aid to the UNRWA
On Tuesday, the Trump administration told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that the U.S. will be cutting tens of millions of dollars in aid to the organization. The announcement comes only a few days after Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas delivered a scathing speech against Israel and the United States at the United Nations.
While the U.S. is not cutting all of its aid, it will be withholding $65 million. The UNRWA was formed to assist the Palestinian refugees who were displaced when five Arab nations attacked Israel shortly after it was established in 1948. Now, the organization gives aid to the descendants of the refugees.
Mahmoud Abbas Slammed the U.S. and Israel in U.N. Speech
On Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas addressed the U.N. General Assembly to denounce Israel. During his speech, he accused Israel of carrying out genocide against the Palestinians. He also blamed the Jewish state for the rise in terrorism. “We must also assume that no one will wonder anymore why extremism is rising and why the culture of peace is losing ground and why the efforts to achieve it are collapsing,” he said.
Abbas also lashed out at Israeli settlers, calling them “racist and armed gangs of settlers.” He accused them of engaging in war crimes against the refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
The International Community’s Reaction
Not surprisingly, the international community was not happy about Trump’s decision. Several prominent officials have made public statements criticizing the president’s decision:
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lambasted the president’s move. “I’m very concerned,” he said on Tuesday.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted that Trump was “holding Palestinian kids’ humanitarian needs hostage to political agendas.”
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the president’s action would “hamper the efforts towards a two-state political solution and regional stability.”
Lastly, PLO Executive Committee Member Mustafa Barghouti claimed that the Trump administration was trying “to liquidate the rights of Palestinian refugees.”
The U.S. Doesn’t Need to Give the PA Any More Funding
Trump’s decision to withhold funds from the Palestinian Authority is a positive move, but he should have gone farther. According to The Jerusalem Post, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley “advocated for a full and immediate aid cut.” Haley is right. The Palestinian Authority has not demonstrated a sincere commitment to working towards a peaceful resolution with Israel. Even before Abbas was in power, they continually rejected each peace offer given by Israel.
The Palestinians have not made any significant overtures towards peace – indeed, they have responded to Israel’s concessions with more terrorism. And yet, Abbas stood before the U.N. and claimed that the rise in extremism was the fault of the Jewish state.
Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the city as the capital of Israel was the right move. His critics argued that this move would ignite more violence in the region, but their predictions have not come to fruition.
It is clear that the Palestinians will not be willing to negotiate when they feel that there are no consequences to their recalcitrance. Instead of continuing the failed policies of previous presidents, Trump has decided to try a more stringent approach. Perhaps this will put enough pressure to motivate the PA to come to the table.
We don’t know if the president’s actions will make a difference, but we do know that our previous strategies have not worked. The United States has given millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has made numerous peace offers, to no avail. Appeasement has not yielded positive results. Perhaps it is time to use the stick instead of the carrot.