VIDEO - Donald Trump's threat to cut US $ 300 million in financial aid if Palestinians refuse to negotiate with Israel provokes anger in refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza.
Corresponding to Jerusalem
Refugees in Chouaffat camp remained speechless. Nearly a month after recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, Donald Trump announced Wednesday want to cut the food to the Palestinians"If they refuse to negotiate the long-overdue peace treaty with Israel". Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has clarified her thinking by threatening to suspend US funding for the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (Unrwa) "as long as (their leaders) will not return to the negotiating table ". With an annual budget of $ 369 million, the United States is by far the largest contributor to the organization's budget, which is assisting 5.2 million Palestinians with refugee status in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - as well. Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.
The Chouaffat camp, as confessed by its inhabitants with a bitter smile, is "rather well endowed" in comparison with the eighteen other sites administered by Unrwa in the West Bank. Separated from the center of Jerusalem by a concrete wall, the refugees nevertheless benefit from social security. They can access the Israeli labor market. But a brief incursion into the overcrowded enclave is enough to measure the limits of this privilege. Created in 1965 to accommodate 500 refugees, the camp is home to over 24,000 inhabitants, who pile up over 0.2 km2. The buildings are agglutinated in anarchy such that Unrwa agents fear a hecatomb the day an earthquake struck. The roads are broken down, the sewers overflow during the first rains and garbage collection is so erratic that piles of rubbish pile up at the foot of the concrete wall that encloses the scene.
"The situation is hardly bearable in the state, grim Ali Mohammed Ali, 40, from a family who fled the village of Beit Thoul in 1948. So, we had trouble imagining what will happen if this crazy Trump is putting his threat to work. "Some 1,500 children in the camp are educated in the three schools run by Unrwa, which also runs a primary health care center there. Shaer al-Qam, a committee member running the camp, says: "No matter how much we are attached to this city," he says, "Trump's decision on the status of Jerusalem has not changed our lives. But if he applies his threat to reduce the sums spent on refugees, then people will really suffer ... "
The anger of Mahmoud Abbas
The American threat comes as dialogue with the Palestinians is officially broken. Mahmoud Abbas believes that the United States has disqualified itself in its role of mediator by supporting, December 6, the claims of the Jewish state on Jerusalem. Palestinian negotiators boycott their American counterparts charged with preparing the "ultimate agreement" promised by President Trump.
On Christmas Eve, Mahmoud Abbas refused to accept Vice President Mike Pence during his planned trip to the Middle East. The visit, reported, would have been reprogrammed in late January, but the head of the Palestinian Authority "has not changed his mind," warns Majdi Khaldi, his diplomatic adviser.
The two tweets published by Donald Trump on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday have thrown some more fuel on the fire. "We have removed from the table Jerusalem, which is the thorniest subject of the negotiations, but Israel would have to pay more in return," said the enigmatic US president, before questioning: "Now that Palestinians do not want no longer talk about peace, why should we maintain the huge payments we give them? "In addition to the sums earmarked for Unrwa, America donated $ 319 million in development aid last year and $ 36 million in Palestinian security services. "Jerusalem is not for sale, whether for gold or billions," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, the spokesman for President Abbas.
"The Americans say they want to bring us back to the negotiating table, but it is they who left it violating the rules of the game," says Majdi Khaldi, who denounces "dangerous" threats. "The fate of refugees is a sensitive and complex issue," he says, "which may not only affect the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, but also in the countries where they are staying."
The Israelis, if they regularly accuse Unrwa of unsuccessful refugee claims, partly share this view. "Cutting food to this organization will hurt the most vulnerable members of Palestinian society. But for what result? "Asks Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, former spokesman for the army. The West Bank and Gaza refugee camps, he recalls, have long been home to the most radical elements of Palestinian armed groups. "The American decision, he believes, will not contribute to the stability and security of the region." "When people are hungry, they would be ready to fight the devil itself," says Shaer al-Qam, before to qualify: "In order to rise up against injustice, a political leadership should encourage them to do so. And most of those who could sleep in Israeli jails. "
Source: Palestinians fear end of US aid