In some good news related to my previous post, the Trump administration has threatened to close down the PLO offices in Washington in retaliation for the PA attempting to bring Israelis to the International Criminal Court:
The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday night expressed its surprise over threats by the United States to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.
On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had put the PLO on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel.
According to AP, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.
A State Department official said that in September, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.
The law now gives President Donald Trump 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. An official told AP it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.
The Palestinians then threatened to cut their ties to Washington (a bonus as far as Israel is concerned):
“The State Department notified us in an official letter that they cannot certify the continued opening of the PLO office in Washington, DC, due to the fact that we are pursuing the ICC,” Erekat told Israeli public broadcaster Kan.
“We responded to them in an official letter that in case they officially close the office of the PLO in Washington, DC, we will put on hold all communications with this American administration,” he added.
Watch Saeb Erekat’s statement here:
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said on Saturday night the surprise stems from the fact that the meetings between Abbas and Trump were characterized by a full understanding of the steps necessary to create an atmosphere that would allow the resumption of the peace process.
He said that the American threat represented an unprecedented step in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and could have dangerous implications for the peace process and the relations between the United States and Arab countries.
Reports of the threat to shut down the PLO mission in Washington came several days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Taylor Force Act.
The bill, named for U.S. army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered in a terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in March, 2016, would cut funding to the PA unless it stopped its payments to terrorists and their families.
All I can say is it’s about time that someone finally held the PLO and the PA to account for their support of terrorism and for scuppering the peace talks with Israel every step of the way.
Bassam Tawil, a Middle East-based Muslim, explains in the Gatestone Institute why the Palestinians will not accede to any demands made upon them by Trump or any other American administration:
- The Palestinians have made up their mind: The Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything.
- If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
- Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.
Caroline Glick talks about holding the State Department to account as an extension of the threat to close the PLO mission:
Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.
And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”
Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.
In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”
DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.
Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”
Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.
With this in mind it is nothing short of astonishing that the following video appeared, in which Kuwaiti writer strongly defended Israel, calling it a legitimate state, not an occupier:
I think we should ask Mr. Al-Hadlaq to provide some urgently-needed background information to the State Department! Kol hakavod to him. I hope he stays safe.
Along with the daring fatwa of Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh condemning Hamas as another terror organization and forbidding fighting against Israel , is this another harbinger of better times ahead for Israel in the Middle East? I hope I’m not being too optimistic in hoping so. There have been too many of these talks, statements, interviews and fatwas to think there is not a sea-change starting to occur in the Arab world. Let us just pray it continues.
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I would be grateful but reserve a portion of my happiness under the “too good to be true “ heading. Also there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so my question is “what’s the catch?” Something is off and I wonder what it is. Sorry for not rejoicing all the way.
I don’t get the feeling of “something is off”, though I do wonder “what’s the catch”? Re the Saudis I think they’re happy if they can get Israel to do their dirty work, and if it all goes pear-shaped then Israel can take the blame. I don’t think Israel is ready yet to jump into those murky waters, but we do share a common enemy after all.
The attitudes from the Gulf countries are coming from another angle, though Iran is a threat to them too. I think they are becoming more westernized, their young populations are more educated, more exposed to the outside world and maybe getting restless. And maybe they are seeing the advantage of warming up to Israel? Again, maybe there’s a catch, maybe not, but why not enjoy it while we can? It’s not even something new. There have been interviews and articles like this on and off for years now.
כבדהו וחשדהו – trust but verify, that should be the motto, and I’m sure Israel’s leaders are keeping to that.
Good point, Anne, in your first paragraph.
a week has gone by since the the threat was issued, and now they’ve been given 90 days… I’ve that feeling that everyone knows it’s just words. But maybe, even if just words it has started a change in the atmosphere. I suppose there’s room for hope.
Yes, I just read tonight that the US will not be closing the PLO offices after all. I should have known it was too good to be true. Will the Palestinians take it as a change in the atmosphere? Or will they think they’ve won once again? I fear it is the latter.
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