Donald Trump’s administration has closed the Palestinian mission in the US after accusing it of failing to pursue peace with Israel.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Washington DC office Monday and said the PLO ‘has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.’
His statement continued: ‘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.’
Bolton went on to accuse the PLO leadership of ‘(condemning) a US peace plan they have not yet see and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.’
Palestinian Authority spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud said the PLO office closure was ‘a declaration of war on efforts to bring peace to our country and the region.’
According to Al Jazeera, he also claimed the move would let Israel continue ‘their policies against the Palestinian people and land.’
And PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called the closure ‘yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education.’
On Saturday, it was announced President Trump had cut $25million in aid for Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals, with that cash sent instead to ‘high-priority projects elsewhere.’
Last month, the White House said it would redirect $200million earmarked to support Palestinian economic support forums to other areas.
And Trump sparked widespread anger in May after moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Previous administrations avoided opening embassies there because of its status as a sacred city to Christians, Jews and Muslims.