Trump casts doubt on Middle East peace talks

Middle East

Middle East

Trump casts doubt on Middle East peace talks

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Media captionTrump: “I don’t know that [peace talks] will ever take place”US President Donald Trump has questioned whether peace talks with Israel will ever resume, blaming the Palestinians.Mr Trump said Palestinians had “disrespected” the US in the wake of his controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”Respect has to be shown to the US or we’re just not going any further,” he told reporters at Davos.The Palestinians say the US can no longer be considered a neutral broker.President Mahmoud Abbas has called Mr Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem in December the “slap of the century”.However, sitting alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the World Economic Forum, Mr Trump said: “Israel has always supported the United States so what I did with Jerusalem was my honour.”We took Jerusalem off the [negotiating] table, so we don’t have to talk about it any more. They [the Palestinians] never got past Jerusalem.”Turning to Mr Netanyahu, Mr Trump said: “You won one point, and you’ll give up some points later on in the negotiation, if it ever takes place – I don’t know that it will ever take place.”The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Israel regards Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war – as the capital of a future state.Mr Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital broke with decades of a US policy of neutrality on the issue and put it out of step with the rest of the international community. Funds withheldMr Trump said he stood by his recent decision to withhold more than half of a $125m (£90m) instalment the US planned to pay the UN relief agency for the Palestinians, a move which was denounced by the Palestinians as blackmail.”We give them [the Palestinians] hundreds of millions of dollars a year – that is on the table – why should we do something for them when they do nothing for us?” Mr Trump asked.”I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace and they’re [the Palestinians] going to have to want to make peace too or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”Washington has been developing a new framework for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but President Abbas has said he will no longer accept any plan proposed by the US.Mr Trump also accused the Palestinians of having “disrespected our great Vice-President” Mike Pence, when they refused to meet him when he visited the region earlier this week. The US president has previously spoken of his desire to achieve the “ultimate deal” of bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The last round of on-off peace talks between the two sides collapsed amid acrimony in April 2014.

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