‘We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace…’
(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) The Trump administration announced Monday that it is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s base in Washington, D.C., saying the Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate with Israel and its attempts to criminalize Israel for alleged war crimes will no longer be tolerated.
“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a statement, announcing the decision.
The announcement is just one more step Trump has taken to strengthen the U.S. alliance with Israel.
Fox News reported that the White House has been considering shutting down the Washington PLO mission since November, and Palestine’s refusal to even consider peace talks solidified its decision.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had called on Trump officials to take action in June. Among the measures already in effect are changes to Obama-era tax-subsidized educational programs for Palestinians that had drawn criticism for promoting anti-Israeli terrorism.
The decision to shut down the mission is in line with a provision in U.S. law that requires the PLO base to close if the Palestinians ever attempted to prosecute Israel for “war crimes” in an international court.
“While the Court welcomes the membership of the so-called State of Palestine, it has threatened Israel—a liberal, democratic nation—with investigation into its actions to defend citizens from terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Gaza,” Bolton said. “There has also been a suggestion that the ICC will investigate Israeli construction of housing projects on the West Bank.”
Heather Nauert, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, said the U.S. is still pushing direct negotiations between Palestine and Israel and that this decision should distract from peace talks.
“The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward,” Nauert said in a statement. “This action 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.”
Actor and conservative activist James Wood posted a tweet celebrating the decision on Twitter:
— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) September 10, 2018