The United States on Wednesday officially closed down the PLO office in Washington DC, the sole representation of the Palestinian Authority in the US, as part of a one-two punch delivered by the Trump administration, the first part being the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the relocation there of the US embassy. There were punches three and four as well this year, with cutting US assistance to the PA and the termination of aid UNRWA.
It should be noted that short of a cursory report of the closure by the news agencies, no major media outlet has shown an interest in the event as being particularly earth shattering or even interesting. The only media outlets that thought this event was worth noting were Pro-Palestinian: Ha’aretz and Ma’an (We’re kidding, Ma’an is not officially pro-Palestinian).
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said the PLO leadership would hold a series of important meetings: “During this month, we will see what the Palestinian leaders will decide, and at the end of the month we will have to implement all that is confirmed by the Central Council on the 26th of this month,” he announced this week.
Writer and political analyst Jihad Harb suggested this week that the eviction of the PLO from the US means stopping all communications between the PA and the Americans, meaning that the US administration gave up its role as sponsor of the peace process between the PA and the Israelis, adopting the Israeli position in completely. This despite the fact that National Security Adviser John Bolton, who in September announced the PLO office’s closure, insisted this did not shut the door on the Arab-Israeli peace plan being cooked up by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Harb told Ma’an on Friday that war is now more possible than ever before. He predicted that the decision cuts all diplomatic relations with America, and increases the intensity of the tension between Washington and Ramallah, and that the break could continue for many years.
Harb said the PA leadership had no choice but to continue to go to the Security Council and the International Criminal Court and to try to enforce treaties and agreements that had been frozen at the request of the United States, as well as push for international pressure on Israel and the US.
For his part, Talal Abu Zarifa, member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front, said “the Palestinian leadership must respond to this step by terminating all relations with America,” adding that “the US administration damaged all the symbols of the Palestinian cause, including issues sacred to the Palestinian side, the issue of Jerusalem, refugees and prisoners, in addition to cutting off financial aid.”
Zarifa called on the PA leadership to withdraw its recognition of Israel, withdraw from the Oslo and Paris agreements, then joining every possible international treaty and going to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the leaders of “the occupation,” while “moving to fight on the ground to restore prestige to the Palestinian cause and to liquidate the so-called Israel.”
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO executive committee, said: “The closure of the organization’s office is an unethical blackmail, which was clearly expressed by officials in the American administration, including US President Donald Trump, aimed at punishing the Palestinian people who are the victims of the brutal Israeli military occupation.”
Ashrawi pointed out that “these dangerous and irresponsible moves are clear evidence of the actual American complicity with the Israeli occupation and proof of total disregard for the requirements of a just peace based on international law and respect for human rights.”
And Arab American Institute President John Zogby referred to the plight of the refugees as “the wound in the heart of the Arab world that has never healed.”
Really? Could have fooled us.