From Jerusalem’s recognition as Israeli capital to closure of PLO mission, a list of US moves since Trump took office.
The United States says it will shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) diplomatic office in Washington, DC, over the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to enter into US-brokered negotiations with Israel, the latest in a series of measures against the Palestinian leadership.
The move on Monday comes amid deteriorating ties between the two sides in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year and the relocation of its embassy there.
That decision drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders and criticism around the world, while Palestinian leaders, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, said the US had taken itself “off the table” as a peace mediator.
Since Trump took office on January 20, 2017, Israel – a traditional US ally that receives $3.1bn in annual military aid from Washington (next year, that figure will increase to $3.8bn under a 10-year deal agreed by former US President Barack Obama) – has taken a series of measures that have been criticised as “racist” and “discriminatory” against the Palestinian people.
Trump is meanwhile expected to unveil details of what he has long referred to as the “deal of the century” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to reports, the deal prohibits the return of more than five million Palestinian refugees and removes the status of Jerusalem from negotiations.
Here is a timeline of key US decisions regarding Palestinians since Trump assumed office.
- February 16: Trump drops the long-standing US commitment to a two-state solution, says he would back a single-state solution after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
- March 24: US Senate approves the appointment of David Friedman, a supporter and donor to illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land, as Washington’s ambassador to Israel.
- December 6: Trump announces a controversial decision to relocate US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, formally recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with decades of US policy.
- January 3: Trump threatens to cut aid to the Palestinians in a series of Twitter posts, citing their unwillingness “to talk peace”.
- January 17: US government cuts more than half its planned funding ($65m out of a $125m aid package) to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that caters to more than five million registered refugees.
- May 14: US embassy officially opens in Jerusalem on the same day Palestinians commemorate 70 years since the Nakba or “Catastrophe”, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities and towns by Zionist paramilitaries in 1948 – also the eve of when the state of Israel was established.
- August 19: Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was tasked along with envoy Jason Greenblatt with reviving the stalled peace process in 2017, embarks on Middle East tour to build support for the yet-to-be-announced Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
- August 25: US cuts $200m economic aid to the Palestinians after it had planned to provide $251m for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget.
- August 31: US State Department says it is stopping all funding to UNRWA after determining the organisation to be an “irredeemably flawed operation”.
- September 9: US slashes one of its last remaining aid programmes ($25m in financial assistance) to a network of six hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem.
- September 10: US closes the PLO mission to Washington, DC, over Palestinian Authority’s refusal to enter into US-led talks with Israel.
- September 17: US revokes visas for the PLO envoy and his family in Washington, DC, causing them to leave the country.
- September 17: US cuts $10m in aid for programmes on conflict resolution, designed to bring reconciliation for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS