By Robert Carbery
President Trump on Thursday stated that he would withhold any aid money from the Palestinians until they reach peace talks with Israel as the U.S. president sat with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu at an economic summit in Switzerland in which China has actually moved ahead of the U.S. in many respects.
Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last year which upset many Muslim Arab nations and resulted in the Palestinians refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence on his visit to the region this week. The Palestinians no longer trusts the current U.S. administration. Consequently, Trump declared that the U.S. gives “hundreds of millions of dollars” to the Palestinians and “that money is on the table and that money’s not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace.” The Palestinians have called Trump’s talk, unacceptable.” The Palestinians have made their position based on a Palestinian state existing with a capital in East Jerusalem.
Trump is setting a hard line entering this year’s World Economic Forum, gathering together the world’s political leaders, business executives, and other significant global celebrities and people of note. But this president of the U.S. is aiming to bring his “America First” economic agenda to the world’s stage, highlighting how it is better for all nations to look out for their own economic interest as opposed to that of the entire world.
Free trade versus protectionism is the topic of discussion in Davos. But the Palestinian – Israeli situation remains on the forefront. Trump was likely referring to the more than $5 billion that the U.S. has contributed to the Palestinians since the mid-1990s, averaging an annual $400 million since 2008. Israel has obviously been overjoyed by the recent stance of the new administration in Washington DC.
Trump arrived in Zurich en route to Davos over a snowy and hilly countryside. As Trump got off the helicopter in Davos, he recognized the aides who helped him across the snowy landing zone into a waiting car.
Trump’s America First focus will be at odds with this global summit in Switzerland that emphasizes free trade and international relations.
The president is set to address the forum Friday. He is expected to showcase the booming U.S. economy and measures like his recent tax overhaul, claiming that a thriving America benefits the world. A vocal critic of trade deals he sees as unfair to the U.S., Trump will also stress the need for what he sees as fair competition.
Two European executives mentioned to Reuters reporters that they were staying away from a Davos dinner with Trump attending because they did not want to shake the Donald’s hand. Well, they missed out on the grilled beef tenderloin with green pea puree.
Trump is addressing a forum on Friday about his aims with foreign nations over the last year and into this next year. The U.S. wants strong ties with its allies but we also want to recuperate our massive trade deficits existing with many other nations at the moment.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, no fan of Trump, lectured European leaders of the dangers of nationalism, isolationism, and of course, protectionism. Before his visit to Davos, Trump installed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels, the first of unilateral trade restrictions made by a supposedly protectionist administration.
On Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he would be in favor of a weaker dollar. A preposterous statement coming from an individual at his level. This comment only spiked concerns of a coming trade war with not only Europe, but Asia as well. Trump told CNBC in a recent interview that he supported a strong dollar and expected our American currency to rise under his administration.
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By Robert Carbery