by WorldTribune Staff, September 10, 2018
The U.S. State Department on Sept. 10 announced the Trump administration is shutting down the Washington, D.C. office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement that the administration had allowed the PLO office to remain open since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017, but “the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
Nauert added: “To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”
According to reports, U.S. President Donald Trump will unveil his long-awaited Middle East peace plan during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 25.
The plan was drafted by U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt and Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Greenblatt tweeted last month that “No one will be fully pleased with our proposal, but that is the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed only if it is based on realities.”
Palestinian officials have repeatedly rejected Trump’s peace proposal, claiming it was coordinated with Israel.
This decision to close the PLO office, Nauert said, “is also consistent with administration and congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.”
The U.S. “continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward,” Nauert said. “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.”