The Trump administration is shutting down the Washington D.C. headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization due to their refusal to takes steps toward peace with Israel.
In a Monday speech before the conservative legal group The Federalist Society, National Security Advisor John Bolton said they were closing the office as well as placing sanctions on the International Criminal Court.
“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” he said, adding that the current administration “will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
His remarks come as tensions escalate in the region and as Jews mark their new year, 5779. Rosh Hashanah began Sunday evening and will end Tuesday evening.
The move is being seen as a way to pressure the Palestinians to return to negotiations with the Jewish state.
“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,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, in a statement.
“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” she said, echoing Bolton.
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian representative to Washington, said relations between the U.S. and the Palestinians are at historic lows, and that the action was all a part of Trump’s efforts to pursue the “deal of the century.” U.S. policy is effectively “implementing of Israel’s grocery list,” he said.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also blasted the move.
“These people have decided to stand on the wrong side of history by protecting war criminals and destroying the two-state solution,” he said of the Trump administration.
“I told them if you are worried about courts, you should stop aiding and abetting crimes.”
Bolton also threatened to put sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it investigates the U.S. and Israel, saying the judicial body was “dead to us”
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Source: Christian Post