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Trump’s Self-Defeating Palestine Policy

Given the deep personal interest Palestinians have in the outcome of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, successful negotiations will require a nuanced approach that respects the sensibilities and aspirations of the people. Instead, the Trump administration is issuing public threats that make compromise less likely.

JERUSALEM – US President Donald Trump’s administration decided last month to cut all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides schools, health care, and other assistance to Palestinian refugees. Last week, the administration announced the withdrawal of $25 million in funding for six East Jerusalem hospitals, where the majority of patients are Palestinian. And this week, the US State Department announced the imminent closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington mission.

The goal is to force Palestinian leaders to drop their demand for the right of return to the homes they left when Israel was established in 1948. It will not work. On the contrary, it will probably make an agreement on one of the most contentious issues in the Israel-Palestinian conflict even less likely.

Trump has tried this tactic before. Last year, his administration threatened, via its ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, to impose financial punishment on countries that contested its formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. UN member states responded by voting overwhelmingly to condemn the decision.

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