Photo: AP
Saeb Erekat
Photo: AP

Erekat accuses US, Israel of 'waging war' on Palestinians

After US announces decision to cut more than $200 million in Palestinian aid, PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat tells Ynet 'political blindness' shown by Trump and Netanyahu, which he says has 'no end game', is destroying the path of peace; says no peace without east Jerusalem as capital of Palestinian state.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat accused the US and Israel on Sunday of waging a “war against the Palestinians by financial pressure” after the Trump administration announced over the weekend that it would be cutting more than $200 million in bilateral aid to the Palestinians.



The US’s decision came following a review of the funding for projects in the West Bank and Gaza, the State Department said.


Saeb Erekat in interview with Ynet

Saeb Erekat in interview with Ynet


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“Netanyahu and Trump ... believe they can take Jerusalem off the table, take refugees off the table, legalize settlements, drop the idea of two states on the 1967 lines, and they believe the Palestinians … will accept this,” Erekat said in an interview with Ynet.


“Unfortunately, you have an American administration and Israeli administration that have taken Israelis and Palestinians off the path of peace. And I don’t know the end game of this. I don’t know what they are doing other than destroying the moderate Palestinians who believe in the two-state solution, who have recognized Israel, who believe in achieving peace through negotiations and not violence. I think that’s what they are destroying,” Erekat continued.


He further accused Israel of playing a game, of killing Palestinians and accusing them of being terrorists. This, he said, would only enlarge the cycle of violence.


 (Photo: AFP)
(Photo: AFP)


“This political blindness will lead nowhere. Palestinians have no option but to remain in this land. A question to Netanyahu … What are you going to do with us?” he asked.


Erekat was also asked about his thoughts on President Trump’s recent comments that Israel would pay “a higher price” in peace negotiations in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.


“I don't know what he means by higher price. It should be known for you as Israelis and Americans, that without east Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine … I don’t think we will ever have peace,” Erekat said.


The State Department notified Congress of the decision to make the financial cuts in a brief, three-paragraph notice sent first to lawmakers and then to reporters on Friday. It said the administration will redirect the money to "high priority projects elsewhere."


The move comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East pointmen, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, staff up their office to prepare for the rollout of a much-vaunted but as yet unclear peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.


 (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)


"At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of US assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with US national interests and provide value to the US taxpayer," the department said.


"As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million ... originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.


"This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza's citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation," the notice said, without providing additional details.


The US had planned to give the Palestinians $251 million for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget year that ends on September 30.


But with just over a month to go before that money must be used, reprogrammed to other areas or returned to Treasury, less than half has actually been spent.


UNWRA agency in Gaza (Photo: AFP)
UNWRA agency in Gaza (Photo: AFP)


Earlier this month, the department had released about $60 million of the 2018 money for security projects that encourage cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.


In response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman said the US decision is meant to force the Palestinians to abandon their claim to Jerusalem.


According to Nabil Abu Rdeneh, the move is part of continuing political and financial pressure on the Palestinian leadership. He says the Americans must be fully aware that there will be no peace without east Jerusalem as capital of a Palestinian state.


"The American administration is using cheap blackmail as a political tool. The US administration should be ashamed of constant bullying and punishment of a people under occupation. The US has already demonstrated its depravity in its collusion with the Israeli occupation, allowing Israel to steal land and resources, and now it is displaying economic viciousness by punishing the Palestinian victims of the occupation," Hanan Daoud Khalil Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member, said on Saturday.


פרסום ראשון: 08.26.18, 14:32
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