(JTA) — The Trump Administration ordered the close of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington D.C.
“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. However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in the announcement Monday.
“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,” the announcement said.
The announcement also linked the closure to “Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday morning praised the decision at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“Israel very much appreciates the Trump administration decision and supports American actions that are designed to make it clear to the Palestinians that the refusal to enter into negotiations with Israel and the unbridled attacks against Israel will not only not advance peace but will certainly not make things better for the Palestinians,” Netanyahu said.
Amb. Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO General Delegation to the United States, condemned the decision to close the Palestinian mission to the U.S. He said in the statement issued on Monday that “we are not surprised.”
“Such a reckless act confirms that the administration is blindly executing Israel’s ‘wish list,’ which starts with shutting down Palestinian diplomatic representation in the U.S.,” Zomlot said.
The closure follows a month in which the United States announced that it would cut more than $200 million for humanitarian and development aid in the West Bank and Gaza; halt all funding to the UNRWA, United Nations refugee agency that aids Palestinians; and halt funding to the East Jerusalem Hospital Network, made up of six hospitals.