Slapping Down Trump

If only the US president would act on his threat to cut off aid to the yes-voters


By Abdel Bari Atwan

The UN is not for sale. US President Donald Trump failed to buy off the countries of the world, rich and poor, with his dollars or scare them off with his threats. His representative Nikki Haley walked out of the chamber early because she could not bear the humiliation of losing the vote. Israel’s representative was left abandoned and isolated, with only seven other states – the likes of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru – willing to stand in his trench.

There can no doubt that Thursday’s vote by over two-thirds of UN members in favour of a resolution denouncing the Judaization of occupied Jerusalem and declaring the transfer of the US embassy there to be ‘null and void’ was a major victory and a turning-point in international support for the Palestinian cause.

More important, however, is that it dealt a crushing defeat to the US president’s brazen attempt to blackmail and threaten poor countries that receive US aid, and delivered him a slap in the face from the entire world. This is an unprecedented achievement.

The overwhelming vote rubbed the nose of Trump and his administration into the mud and sent out a powerful message that the world is capable of saying ‘no’ to their arrogance, bullying and condescension.

Haley showed the utmost insolence when she tried to strong-arm and intimidate other representatives with her threats that the US would punish those countries that did not vote its way, warnings that it would no longer provide aid for free, and reminders that it is the largest contributor to the UN budget and may reconsider its funding. The Israeli representative was, unsurprisingly, even more insolent, describing the representatives of 128 states that backed the resolution — Russia, China, India, France, Germany, the UK and all the others — as ‘puppets’ of the Palestinian leadership.

Faced with this historic slap-down, Trump ought to be feeling ashamed and chastened, as should his son-in-law Jared Kushner and their good friend Binyamin Netanyahu. Their arrogance and high-handedness has left them ostracized by the entire world.

But he is more likely to react vindictively. It is unclear how, or whether he will make good on his threat to cut off all aid to the yes-voters.

In the Middle East, the three largest recipients of US aid after Israel – which receives the lion’s share —  are Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. It is to the credit of all three that they disregarded Trump’s threat and opted to stand up for Jerusalem at the UN vote.

But would Trump would not dare to actually carry out his threat against them? Should he do so, it is his country and its Israeli ally who would suffer most in the long run. For it would lead to the collapse of all the Arab-Israeli peace agreements that have been signed under US auspices. These have so far remained in tact for a number of reasons, the most notable being the flows of US aid they provide.

The PA gets much more aid from European and Arab countries than it does from the US. The resolve shown by Palestinian leadership in rising to the challenge and continuing to press for the UN resolution on Jerusalem was a good step. It needs to be followed and bolstered by others, such as withdrawing recognition from the occupation state, renouncing the Oslo Accords, and reverting to resistance to the occupation in all its forms, including support for the current nascent  intifada.

We wish the US president would dare carry out his threats to cut off aid from all these Arab parties. For this would complete the total collapse of US Middle East policy, and be a prelude to Israel’s eventual collapse as well. It would excise the cancerous growth of so-called peace agreements that have brought only humiliation to the Arabs and turned them into hostages of the US and Israel, beholden to their dictates and to their poisoned crumbs of financial aid.

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