Donald Trump has dramatically further alienated the Palestinians by threatening to cut funding for the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that Palestinians are allegedly 'no longer willing to talk peace'.
The comments, which came in a pair of characteristically inflammatory tweets, appeared to acknowledge that any prospects of reviving the dormant 'peace process' have been diminished by his controversial move in December unilaterally to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
The US President's remarks came after the US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said during a press conference that the US would cut funds to UNRWA, the UN's agency for Palestinian refugees, unless the Palestinian Authority went back to the negotiating table.
Trump said the US paid 'the Palestinians HUNDRED [sic] OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect. They don't even want to negotiate a long overdue ... peace treaty with Israel.'
He added: 'We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?'
US funding for the Palestinians is $260m, with an additional $50m used to support Palestinian security services, which cooperate with their Israeli counterparts.
The tweets were welcomed by Israel's culture minister, Miri Regev, who said: 'These were very clear statements by a president who said: stop grovelling, stop the hypocrisy. We must say things as they are and restore a sane discourse to the entire world. He is creating a normative language in the international sphere.'
But Jeremy Ben-Ami, of the liberal US Jewish pressure group J Street, said: 'The only thing the president has accomplished by saying he's taking Jerusalem "off the table" is to ensure he'll have no place at the table where the conflict will be resolved diplomatically and a peaceful, secure future for the Jewish or Palestinian peoples ensured.
'In threatening to cut off future "huge" payments to the Palestinians, the president is actually posing a direct threat to Israel's security & wellbeing. American aid supports training for Palestinian security forces who have been partners of the IDF in preventing terror.'
Trump's comments, which some commentators said were his 'most chaotic' yet, come ahead of a visit to the region by his Vice President, Mike Pence, after a planned trip in December was cancelled.