US Orders Closure of PLO Mission in Washington
Pictured Above: Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with members of the Central Committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan. 14, 2018. Credit: Photo by Flash90.
(JNS) While Jews around the world were celebrating the Jewish New Year on Monday, the U.S. State Department confirmed that it was ordering the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization mission in Washington, D.C.
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. … To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the U.S. administration’s “clear stance in the matter.”
Palestinian Authority spokesperson Saeb Erekat slammed the decision as a “dangerous escalation” meant to “protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine” and called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open investigations into “Israeli crimes.”
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton dismissed the ICC as “unaccountable” and “outright dangerous,” and said a case against the United States or allies such as Israel would be “an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation.”
“If the court comes after us, Israel or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly,” Bolton told the Federalist Society in Washington, following the decision. “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
Bolton confirmed that the State Department’s decision to close the PLO office was informed by “congressional concern with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC investigation of Israel.”
In May, a National Security Council spokesperson said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was considering closing the PLO mission after the P.A. called on the ICC to investigate Israeli building in Judea and Samaria, as well as riots on the Gaza border.
In response to the mission closure, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesperson for P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, said the core issues of Jerusalem and the right for Palestinians to live inside Israel as alleged former refugees “are more important than the relationship with the United States.”
Head of the PLO mission in Washington, Husam Zomlot, said the closure was “just going ahead and implementing the grocery list that was submitted to them by Netanyahu.”