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Trump Again Threatens To Withhold Aid To Palestinians

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President Donald Trump has once again threatened to cut off U.S. aid to the Palestinians unless their leaders resume peace negotiations with Israel.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump claimed previous negotiations never involved the aid provided to the Palestinians.

"That money is on the table, and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace," Trump said. "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," he added. "This was never brought up by other negotiators, but it's brought up by me."

Trump argued that he has taken the issue of Jerusalem off the table by officially recognizing the city as the capital of Israel.

"The hardest subject they had to talk about was Jerusalem," Trump said. "We took Jerusalem off the table, so we don't have to talk about it anymore."

The president drew widespread criticism last month for officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announcing plans to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Trump accused the Palestinians of disrespecting the U.S. by not meeting with Vice President Mike Pence during his trip to region last week and suggested respect has to be shown to the U.S. for the peace process to move forward.

"They have to respect the fact that the U.S. has given tremendous support to them over the years, in terms of monetary support and other support," Trump said.

He added, "So we'll see what happens with the peace process, but respect has to be shown to the U.S. or we're just not going any further."

In a post to Twitter earlier this month, Trump questioned why the U.S. should make future payments if the Palestinians are not willing to talk peace.

Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi claimed at the time that Trump was attempting to blackmail the Palestinians.

"President Trump has sabotaged our search for peace, freedom and justice," Ashrawi said in a statement. "Now he dares to blame the Palestinians for the consequences of his own irresponsible actions!"

Last week, the administration announced it would withhold roughly half of a $125 million contribution to a United Nations agency that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees.

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