Expert on US Plan to Cut Funding to International Bodies: In Trump Era, Palestinians Will Pay a Price for Peace Rejectionism
The Trump administration’s reported plan to cut funding to international bodies that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian Liberation Organization indicates a “change in direction” in US-Israel ties, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Thursday, citing three Israeli international relations experts.
The significance of new President Donald Trump’s intended move, Professor Eytan Gilboa — the director of Bar-Ilan University’s Center for International Communication — told nrg, will be that “no international organization will cooperate with the Palestinians, because no group will want to fight the US.”
“Trump is closing the valve to the Palestinians,” Gilboa continued. “This is a new and powerful declaration.”
In the Trump era, Gilboa predicted, the Palestinians will pay a price for rejectionism.
“Trump says: ‘If you don’t come and start to talk, I’ll allow settlement construction and move the embassy to Jerusalem’ …Trump acts as a businessman with an understanding of profits and losses,” Gilboa stated.
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror — a former head of Israel’s National Security Council — told nrg, “Trump wants to show that he is different than [former President Barack] Obama…this is reflected, among other things, with his treatment of the UN, with no connection to Israel. The Obama administration viewed the UN as an important tool, while Trump, like many Americans, believes that if the US doesn’t get anything from the UN, it doesn’t need to fund it more than others. He has a clear agenda that the UN is not particularly important and therefore he has no problem at all harming anyone who does not line up with the US.”
Trump, Amidror went on to say, is “more sympathetic” to Israel than Obama was.
Amidror stated he believed pressure applied by Trump on the Palestinians would not prompt them to return to the negotiating table with Israel, just like the pressure put by Obama on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for eight years did not lead to greater flexibility from the Israeli side.
Former Israeli Ambassador to the US and deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told nrg that Trump has yet to formulate his policy vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This, Ayalon said, would only happen after Trump meets with Netanyahu at the White House next month.
With his funding cut plan, however, Trump is “showing that any international organization that doesn’t share the US view on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians will lose American financial support.”
Ayalon said it was important that Trump and Netanyahu develop personal chemistry between them.
“If there is chemistry,” Ayalon said, “he [Trump] won’t surprise us with any move and there will be coordination with us on all of his moves in the region, including Iran. If there is no chemistry, it will be very bad, because Trump has proven he takes strong revenge on anyone he views as an adversary.”
Meanwhile, an unnamed Palestinian official told nrg on Thursday that no one from the Trump administration had been in touch with the PA about the funding cut plan and therefore he could not comment specifically on it.
However, the official added, “The fear is real, as the US contributes 50% of the budgets of organizations tied to the UN that provide money to the Palestinians on a large scale, totaling hundreds of millions of dollars every year. If the threat is realized, we expect to suffer grave financial shortfalls that will directly harm thousands of Palestinians.”