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US to Close Palestinian Office in Washington, Citing Lack of Progress on Peace Process With Israel
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=1716"><span class="small">Al Jazeera</span></a>   
Monday, 10 September 2018 14:12

Excerpt: "The United States has announced the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, DC, in what Palestinian leaders have described as 'a declaration of war' on peace efforts by the administration of President Donald Trump."

John Bolton speaking at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on April 17, 2015. (photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/JTA)
John Bolton speaking at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit in Nashua, New Hampshire, on April 17, 2015. (photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images/JTA)


ALSO SEE: John Bolton Is Waging War on the Hague
for Investigating Crimes by America and Israel

US to Close Palestinian Office in Washington, Citing Lack of Progress on Peace Process With Israel

By Al Jazeera

10 September 18


Palestinians decry US administration's decision as 'a declaration of war' on efforts to bring peace.

he United States announced the closure of the Palestinian mission in Washington, DC, in what Palestinian leaders described as "a declaration of war" on peace efforts by the administration of President Donald Trump.

In a statement on Monday, the US State Department said the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office "has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations 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," the statement said.

It added the 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".

In response, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said the move would allow Israel to continue "their policies against the Palestinian people and land".

"It is a declaration of war on efforts to bring peace to our country and the region," PA spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud was quoted as saying by Wafa news agency. 

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement the decision was "yet another affirmation of the Trump administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education".

Targeting the ICC

Trump's national security adviser, John Bolton, threatened the ICC on Monday with sanctions if it carries out investigations into the US and Israel.

"The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel," Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington, DC.

"The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel."

Bolton said the US will target the ICC it it formally proceeds with opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by US service members and intelligence professionals during the war in Afghanistan.

Deteriorating ties

The action against the PLO, which serves as the main entity representing the Palestinian people, is the latest in a series of measures by the Trump administration against the Palestinian leadership.

Over the past year, Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has repeatedly questioned Mahmoud Abbas' commitment to peace and Trump's so-called "deal of the century".

The Palestinian leadership, which sees East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, suspended contacts with the US, after Washington recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel late last year.

The Palestinians insist the status of the city is an issue to be negotiated between them and the Israelis.

Officials in the Gaza Strip, which has been administered by Hamas since 2007, have also previously blasted the US for its support to Israel, saying Washington has long lost its regional credibility.

The US gives Israel annual military aid of $3.1bn. Next year, that figure will increase to $3.8bn under a 10-year deal agreed by Barack Obama shortly before he stepped down as president.

While the details of Trump's so-called "deal of the century" have not officially been released, leaks have suggested that the Palestinians would initially control the Gaza Strip and less than half of the occupied West Bank, while a Palestinian capital would be created from villages surrounding Jerusalem.

The Israelis would retain security control over the Jordan valley and have total control over Palestinian travel between the West Bank and Gaza, while a corridor will be created between Palestinian territory and Jerusalem's holy sites.

It appears meanwhile that Palestinians would have to surrender the principle of the right of return of Palestinian refugees expelled during the creation of Israel, while the future of illegal Israeli settlements and the final border between Palestine and Israel would be decided at a later date.

'Siding with the bully'

According to Diana Buttu, a Palestinian lawyer and analyst who served as a legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team from 2000 to 2005, Monday's decision is part of a list of request the Israeli government made to the Trump govenmernt in 2017.

"The US was handed a wishlist by Israel, and that wishlist has everythig the Netanyahu government wants the Trump government to do," Buttu told Al Jazeera.

"Slowly, piece by piece, the Trump administration is checking off everything that is on this list."

"First we saw the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in May," Buttu said.

"Then we saw the limiting of the number of refugees and stop funding for UNRWA last week, and lastly there not allowing the Palestinians to have official representation in the US, which is what happened now."

According to Buttu, the US is rewarding Israel for "bad and illegal behaviour", while at the same time punishing Palestinians living under occupation. 

"The US is saying they are always going to side with the bully while punishing those that demand to live under freedom."

According to Buttu, Monday's decision will not affect the peace process, because she says there is no peace process to talk about.

"The fact that we're still talking about a peace process is laughable," she told Al Jazeera.

"All they are doing is keep talking about this "deal of the century", but they haven't presented anything yet and I think it is just an attempt to bring Palestinians to their knees," Buttu added.

"But that is not going to happen, because the Palestinian people have been through the Nakba and more, and if the US thinks these decisions will bring them to their knees they're wrong."

Cut in funding 

Monday's announcement comes just weeks after the US said it would cut more than $200m in economic aid for the Palestinians.

The US had planned to give the Palestinians $251m for good governance, healthcare, education and funding for civil society in the current 2018 budget year that ends on September 30.

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that the US has also decided to cut more than $20m in foreign aid meant to support hospitals in East Jerusalem.

According to Haaretz, the hospitals treat Palestinian patients who require cancer and eye treatments.

The decision to cut funding comes amid a severe humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, where more than 160 Palestinians protesting for their right to return to the areas from which they were forcibly expelled from in 1948 have been killed by Israeli gunfire since March 30 during weeks-long demonstrations near the fence with Israel.

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0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-11 07:22
This is really terrible. This is probably the #1 reason Trump must go. He is simply a puppet of the evil Netanyahoo and on order or requests from Nethanyahoo he is committing crimes against the Palestinian people.

This seems consistent with the rumors about the Jared Kushner "peace" plan. Kushner is trying to pay all Palestinians to leave Israel and move into a neighboring state, particularly Jordan. So far Jordan won't agree, but the payment to Jordan may go high enough. Kusher is reported to have said that everyone has a price they won't refuse. He also say, why would a Palestinian not choose to live in wealth in Jordan instead of poverty in Israel.

All Palestinians would simply be declared to be Jordanian (or Egyptian or some other) and expelled from Israel. So there would be no need for a Palestinian office or mission in Washington or anywhere.

Actually this plan has been part of Israel's overall plan for a very long time. It is the "transfer" or expulsion model. Avigdor Lieberman has always supported it, but he wants to do it by force -- at the point of a gun -- rather than by bribe as Kushner is suggesting.

In essence, this is just the erasure of a whole people and nation. This is what the US did to Native Americans. It is also illegal and a violation of human rights.

We need a US president who understand human rights and justice, not a puppet of a rogue regime like Netanyahoo and Israel.
 
 
+4 # Texas Aggie 2018-09-11 07:55
The statement by the State Department is a masterpiece in obfuscation and deceit. In practically every sentence they look at what they or the Israelis have been doing and then blame the Palestinians for doing it instead. This is vintage Karl Rove in action.

If they want to shut down embassies for failure to seek peace, then the Israeli embassy should be the first to go followed by the Saudis.