Trump threatens aid to Palestinian refugees in latest controversial tweet

Israeli minister forces NBA website to remove phrase 'occupied territory'

The official was responding to the president's tweet on Tuesday threatening to cut USA aid from the Palestinian Authority if it does not enter negotiations with Israel.

"They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel", he said.

"The President has basically said he doesn't want to give any additional funding, or stop funding, until the Palestinians agree to come back to the negotiation table", Nikki Haley told reporters when asked about future United States funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees.

West Jerusalem was seized by Israel during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from historic Palestine, referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe) when Israel was officially founded.

Tension has mounted in the Palestinian territories since 6 December, when US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, sparking angry demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

The tweet drew praise from a cabinet minister of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing government, but a former Israeli peace negotiator warned of the dangers in cutting off financial assistance to the Palestinians.

He also said that Israel would have "had to pay more" in future negotiations in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

The move came after Palestinian officials had said they would "no longer accept" any peace plan put forward by Washington following Trump's unilateral declaration on December 6, when he also announced that the United States would begin a process to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas responded by saying the U.S. could no longer play its traditional role as a mediator in the conflict, and Palestinian officials refused to meet with Trump's special peace envoy Jason Greenblatt when he visited the region in December. The Palestinians have anounced that they will no longer work with the Trump administration, and will look for other countries such as Russian Federation or European nations to take a leading role in the process. The administration previously said that recognition does not predetermine the final status of sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Palestinian leaders have long seen East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz told the Post that when he was finance minister from 2009 to 2013, he froze funding to the PA after the it violated agreements and sought membership in the United Nations.

The statement also said 2,436 Palestinians, one-third of whom are children, have been arrested in occupied Jerusalem. "The truth is no peace deal could ever be predicated on the division of Jerusalem".

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