Trump Shutters PLO Office in DC; Historic Move Praised by US & Israeli Leaders

Last November, the Trump Administration surprised the PA when then- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had determined that the PA ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the PA tries to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinian Arabs.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Trump Administration’s decision to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) mission in Washington DC Tuesday evening, following the conclusion of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

“The US took the correct decision,” Netanyahu said. “Israel supports these actions that are meant to make it clear to the Palestinians that refusing to negotiate will not bring about peace.”

On Monday, the PLO announced that the US had ordered the closure of its Washington DC mission. The US State Department later confirmed the move, stating that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had consistently refused to engage with the US government or to support peace talks with Israel.

“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,” a State Department spokesperson stated.

Last November, the Trump Administration surprised the PA when then- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had determined that the PA ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the PA tries to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinian Arabs.

Later, however, State Department officials said that it was decided to keep the delegation open for at least 90 days, and at the end of that period, Trump could announce that he is prolonging its activity because it is vital for supporting “meaningful” Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), a member of the Israeli security cabinet, applauded the decision by the White House earlier this week to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington DC over the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to commit to the resumption of final status talks with Israel.

“I’m surprised the decision didn’t come earlier,” Steinitz said in an interview with Radio 103FM.

“The Palestinians already went too far in their very public refusal to [renew] peace talks. I can’t imagine Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] telling Vladimir Putin that he wishes his home would be destroyed, the way he did to the American president,” Steinitz continued, referencing Abbas’ comments at a PLO Central Council meeting in Ramallah this January.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday praised the Trump administration’s decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington, D.C.

“Thirty years ago, Congress correctly declared that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and its affiliates were terror groups who had no place keeping an office in the United States. Decades of Palestinian behavior since then has confirmed the wisdom of that judgment. Today, Palestinian leaders still refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, still incite and financially reward terrorism, and still lash out against our lawmakers and diplomats,” said Cruz.

“Until today, presidents from both parties let the PLO keep an office open in Washington D.C., which signaled to Palestinian leaders that violence and intransigence had no costs, and so hindered the cause of peace. I have repeatedly introduced legislation requiring the office’s closure, and recently sent a letter to the administration emphasizing that the office was operating illegally and calling for it to be closed. I commend President Trump and his administration for taking the necessary, prudent, and long overdue step of closing down the PLO office,” added Cruz.

Senator Cruz has long called for the closure of the PLO office in Washington D.C. In the letter he co-authored in June with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the two lawmakers urged the Administration to begin taking the necessary steps and instituting the necessary legal action to close the PLO office, citing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987.

The US threatened to shut down the PLO mission in New York back in November, when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the Palestinian leadership warning that the delegation might be shut down as a result of Abbas’s call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel and prosecute Israelis.

Later, however, State Department officials said that it was decided to keep the delegation open for at least 90 days, and at the end of that period, Trump could announce that he is prolonging its activity because it is vital for supporting “meaningful” Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

By: Gary Willig
(INN)

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