US Closes Palestinian Office in Washington for Rejecting Peace Plan ‘They Haven’t Yet Seen’

The Palestinian office in Washington is no more. Illustrative photo of Palestinian event. By Joshua Spurlock

The Americans increased the pressure on the Palestinians for obstructing peace again on Monday, as the United States government closed the office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, D.C. The PLO is the official representative of the Palestinian government to the world and in peace negotiations with Israel, but lately, those peace efforts have been largely dormant. In a statement, the US State Department slammed the Palestinians’ rejectionism.

“The PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” said spokesperson Heather Nauert in the press release. “To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.”

The US decision to close the PLO office follows a recent determination to cancel funding of the United Nations refugee agency that focuses solely on Palestinians as the Palestinians continue to push back against US peace efforts. Israel has supported both US actions, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the closure of the PLO office “the correct decision” in a statement on Tuesday.

“Israel supports American actions that are designed to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate and attempts to attack Israel in international forums will not advance peace,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

Nauert noted in the US press release that the move is “consistent” with concerns by the Trump Administration and Congress over Palestinian efforts to drag Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague. The Palestinians have trumped up alleged war crimes charges and sought to convince the ICC to put Israel on trial.

On Tuesday, the Palestinians went before the Hague again with new accusations, and as if on queue, again rejected all American peace efforts. The WAFA Palestinian news agency quoted Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian chief negotiator with Israel, as dismissing American involvement in “any peace process.”

Citing a video posted to his twitter page, the WAFA report quoted Erekat calling the Trump Administration “part of the problem.”

A key Palestinian lament against the Trump Administration is the decision to move the US Embassy to Israel to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, which Erekat mentioned as one of his reasons to oppose US participation in a peace process. This despite the fact that all credible peace plans have Israel retaining at least some of the city of Jerusalem as their capital and that Israel has held Jerusalem as their official capital for over 68 years—or nearly their entire modern existence.

Yet in the face of Palestinian opposition to US involvement, the Americans remain steadfast in their pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward,” said Nauert. “This action [of closing the PLO office] should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement. We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, September 11, 2018)

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