US President Donald Trump tells Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Palestinians could face further reductions in aid from the US if they continue to refuse to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel.
Meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump says “Jerusalem is off the table” for Palestinians in future peace talks.
“We have discussions going with Israel on many things including trade,” Trump says. “But the big move, and something that is very historic and very important, is the fact that we’re moving the embassy to Jerusalem,” he says, adding that “it’s way ahead of schedule, by years.
“We anticipate a small version [of the embassy] working sometime next year,” Trump tells Netanyahu.
Trump warns Palestinians to return to the negotiating table with Israel or face further cuts in US aid.
“They disrespected us a week ago by not allowing our great vice president to see them, and we give them hundreds of millions of dollars in aid and support — tremendous numbers, numbers that nobody understands. That money is on the table,” he says. “That money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” he says. “Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace. And they’re going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer. This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it’s brought up by me.”
He adds: “The hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem. We took Jerusalem off the table. So we don’t have to talk about it anymore. They never got past Jerusalem. We took it off the table. We don’t have to talk about it anymore.”
He turns to Netanyahu: “You won one point, and you’ll give up some points later in the negotiation, if it ever takes places. I don’t know that it ever will take place.”
“But they [Palestinians] have to respect the process also, and they have to respect the fact that the US has given tremendous support to them over the years, in terms of monetary support and other support. So we’ll see what happens with the peace process. But respect has to be shown to the US, or we’re just not going any further.”
Asked questions by the reporters, Trump says “thank you very much everybody,” but then answers:
“We have a proposal for peace. It’s a great proposal for the Palestinians. I think it’s a very good proposal for Israel. It covers a lot of the things that were over the years discussed and agreed on… There were never any deals that came close, because Jerusalem, you could never get past Jerusalem. People say I set it back. I didn’t set it back. I helped it. Because by taking it off the table, that was the toughest issue. And Israel will pay for that… They’ll do something that’s going to be a very good thing.”
He continues: “But they (the Israelis) want to make peace, and I hope the Palestinians want to make peace. And if they do, everybody’s going to be very happy in the end.”
Asked if he’d heard Abbas’s recent remarks castigating the US, Trump says “I didn’t really read his remarks personally. I’m probably better off not seeing them. But we’ve done a lot for them, and hopefully they’ll going to to make peace for their people.
“It’s many years of killing people. It’s many years of killing each other. They have to be tired and disgusted of it…. I think eventually very sound minds — I hope sounds minds — are going to prevail. And it would be a great achievement of mine. I’ve said it from day one.”