A senior White House official reaffirmed U.S. President Donald Trump's dedication to achieving "the ultimate peace deal" between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a day after Trump's threat to withhold aid to the Palestinians over their unwillingness to pursuing an American-led peace process.
"The president is a master dealmaker and is as committed to trying to achieve the ultimate peace deal as ever but he will not tolerate falsehoods being spread about America and our positions — and he certainly will not spend taxpayer dollars to subsidize those who spread them," said the official.
Trump said the United States may withhold future payments to the Palestinians because they are "no longer willing to talk peace" with Israel. 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.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that the Trump administration wants to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the organization tasked with assisting Palestinian refugees, until they "return to the negotiating table" with Israel.
Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader and chairman of the Palestine National Initiative, alleged that the threat to withhold aid had been coordinated with Israel, and was designed to damage UNRWA. Senior Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat said Trump is "threatening to starve Palestinian children in refugee camps."
The White house official added that while the administration won't give taxpayer money to those spreading lies about the U.S., "we remain hard at work on our comprehensive peace plan, which will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians and will be unveiled when it is ready."
The response comes after a few weeks of constant complaints by the Palestinian leadership that Trump's administration is not committed to achieving a peace deal, and is simply working to support Israel's positions. The Palestinians have anounced that they will no longer work with the Trump administration, and will look for other countries such as Russia or European nations to take a leading role in the process.
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