Spicer Evasive on Settlement Construction, Aid to Palestinians
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday refused to indicate whether or not President Donald Trump will stop the transfer of U.S. dollars to the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA Schools in the Palestinian territories if they fail to reform their education system.
The Obama administration reportedly transferred $221 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority in its waning hours. Former Secretary of State John Kerry formally notified Congress it would send the money Friday morning, according to the Associated Press.
“Is the president okay with that transfer? And if he’s not, will he seek to claw back some that money?” Fox News’ John Roberts asked.
“I think when it comes to how U.S. taxpayers money is spent in general, whether it is overseas or here at home, you have seen through the hiring freeze and other actions that he’s going to take that he is very concerned about how taxpayer money is spent, whether it is sent overseas, and what we get for it in terms of the relationship or our support for a democracy or aid for another country for their defenses,” Spicer said. “But he’s going to be examining all aspects of the budget and how we look at all money because I think there is a newfound respect for how the American people’s tax dollars are spent in this administration.”
The President “is going to make sure that every dollar that is spent by the government is done in a way that respects the American taxpayer,” Spicer added.
The Press Secretary was also asked about the concern raised by some Knesset Members, including MK Yehuda Glick (Likud), over the misuse of U.S. dollars going to UN (UNWRA) schools inciting violence against Israel.
Trump “has tremendous respect for how tax dollars are spent,” Spicer responded, adding that the Democrats would need to allow a vote on Trump’s appointees for UN Ambassador and Secretary of State before things start to happen under their leadership.
Responding via Twitter, Glick told Jewish Insider that he hopes Trump examines the issue “because presently American dollars are going to UNRWA schools in which all textbooks (including mathematics ) are loaded with tons of hate violence incitement and anti-Semitism.”
In related news, Spicer refused to condemn or support Israel’s recent approval of 2,500 new units in West Bank settlements. “He has asked his team to get together,” he said. “Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States. He wants to grow closer with Israel to make sure that it gets the full respect that it deserves in the Middle East, and that’s what he’s going to do. We are going to have a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu and we will continue to discuss that.”
Asked if Trump supports the expansion of settlements, Spicer repeated, “We’ll have a conversation with the Prime Minister.”