Trump administration to close PLO office in Washington

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Washington office is set to close by order of the Trump administration in support of the United States’ longtime ally Israel amid stalled peace efforts.

According to administration officials, the decision to close the PLO office will be announced on Monday by National Security Adviser John Bolton as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton plans to say, according to a draft.

“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” the draft also said.

A Palestinian official confirmed the report on Monday.

“We have been notified by a U.S. official of their decision to close the Palestinian mission to the U.S.,” PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat said in a statement.

“This is 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,” he said.

According to a Reuters report, the administration may possibly also impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court amid claims an investigation may be launched into alleged war crimes by the U.S and Israel against Palestine.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other allies, we will not sit quietly,” he plans to add.

Bolton added that the administration will not allow any ICC judges or prosecutors enter the country if the investigation launches.

“We will sanction their funds in the U.S financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists a İCC investigation of American,” he adds.

In November, the U.S. State Department refused to renew operating permission for the PLO office in Washington for the first time since the 1980s, after Palestinian President and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called for an investigation and prosecution of Israeli officials. The State Department later, however, said it wanted the office to stay open after the PLO froze all communication with the U.S.

Source: Daily Sabah

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