One of Trump’s Leading Middle East Peace Negotiators Lashes Out at Palestinian Authority

On Friday, President Trump’s envoy to Middle East accused the Palestinian Authority of institutionalizing support for terrorism.

By Sohaila Barghash

This comes amid a dispute between the authorities of Palestine and Israel over Israeli tax transfers, which are monthly transfers to the PA from taxes collected by Israel from Palestinians.

Last month, Israel announced a deduction of 5 percent of the tax payout, as a form of punishment for the Palestinian Authority for setting a payment system for Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the families of Palestinians killed or wounded in confrontations with Israelis.

In response to this deduction, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, rejected the rest of the tax transfer and vowed to continue paying the stipends, regardless of the financial crisis facing the PA.

While the Palestinian Authority considers the stipends of the imprisoned, and the families of martyrs to be essential for stability among the Palestinians, the Trump administration stands by Israel’s decision.

For instance, Middle East envoy, Jason D. Greenblatt, accused Palestinian leaders of providing those stipends as a form of reward for acts of terrorism committed by Palestinians.

Furthermore, in a tweet, Greenblatt wrote, “If your citizens were being routinely attacked by terrorists, which of you would tolerate a reward system that compensated the attackers for their crimes? How can we possibly censure Israel for taking the same stance?”

On Friday, Greenblatt was in New York for closed-door discussions on the dispute, held by the United Nations Security Council, which seemingly failed to impose a solution.

Mansour al-Otaibi, Kuwait’s ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters after the session that most members of the Security Council “overwhelmingly” considered the Israeli decision “unacceptable.”

He added, “This is Palestinian money. They have the right, the Palestinians, to do whatever they want with their money.”

The tax revenues are initially generated from the earnings of Palestinian day laborers and merchants who do business in Israel, as well as from customs duties on Palestinian imports through Israeli ports.

In July, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation to allow the government to withhold a portion of the tax revenue, which makes up about 7 percent of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget.

The Palestinian Authority’s refusal to accept any portion of the revenues worsened its financial state, which is already bad due to a decision last year by the Trump administration to cut fundings to the United Nations agency providing assistance to millions of Palestinians.

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor, have executed severe decisions in effort to force Palestinians to return to the negotiating table and give up on their longstanding demands.

However, with such cruelty and the lack of consideration for the other side, Kushner and Greenblatt seem to be pushing both sides away from formulating any discussions for peace, as the Palestinian Authority has refused to discuss the plan with American negotiators, in protest over the Trump administration’s decision in December 2017, which recognized Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, moving the United States Embassy there from Tel Aviv.

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