Says he cut PA aid because 'they were saying nasty things'

Trump: If no Israeli-Palestinian peace deal during my tenure, it’ll never happen

US president says the Palestinians seek an agreement but ‘want to be a little bit cute – and that is okay’; expresses optimism over his plan’s chances

US President Donald Trump gestures, during a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)
US President Donald Trump gestures, during a press conference on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

US President Donald Trump said Saturday there will never be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement if one is not negotiated during his presidency, while saying there is a “very good chance” his proposal for solving the decades-long conflict could succeed.

Trump made the remark during a press conference at the end of the G20 summit in Japan, days after his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner unveiled the economic aspects of the US peace plan at a conference in Bahrain.

“With me being president, if you don’t get that deal done it’ll never happen,” he said.

Trump said he believes the Palestinians, who have boycotted his administration since his December 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, want an agreement.

“I know they want to make a deal, but they want to be a little bit cute — and that is okay. I fully understand where they are coming from,” he said.

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

Regarding his decision to cut US aid for the Palestinians, Trump said it was because they said “nasty things” about him, without specifying.

“I ended that money because a year ago I heard they were saying nasty things and I said, ‘Wait a minute, we’re trying to make a deal, we’re trying to help them and they’re saying these nasty things, we’re not gonna pay,'” he said.

“If you’re not negotiating and don’t want to help make peace, we’re not gonna pay you. So let’s see what happens,” he added.

Despite the Palestinians’ rejection of his peace efforts, Trump was optimistic that there is a “very good chance” of reaching an agreement, which he said “may very well be the toughest deal of all.”

“A lot of people think it can’t be made,” he said.

Trump also commented on the holding of fresh elections in Israel following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a government after elections in April, which has delayed the rollout of the political side of the White House’s peace plan.

“The transaction was thrown up in the air a bit because of what happened with Bibi Netanyahu’s election. They thought he won and then all of a sudden he couldn’t put together the coalition and now they’re back to campaigning again,” he said.

“So that was something that came up. Who would’ve expected that?” Trump added. “Maybe something will happen faster, but that’ll be going on for about three months.”

At the Peace to Prosperity conference in Bahrain this week, Kushner rolled out an economic plan that proposed a $50 billion investment for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and countries in the region over the course of 10 years, and pledged to create up to a million new jobs.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, speaks to reporters as he closes the US-sponsored ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in the Bahraini capital Manama on June 26, 2019. (Shaun Tandon/AFP)

The proposal was dismissed by the Palestinian Authority, which says that Kushner’s plan is a pretext by the pro-Israel Trump administration to impose a political solution that it says will adopt Israel’s positions on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kushner said that the administration will put out the political component at the “right time” — and said that different people were drafting the political and economic plans.

He also said despite the PA boycott, the door was still to open to the Palestinians.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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