Trump Admin Will Shutter Palestine Liberation Office In D.C.

ICC is dead to us’ US to use ‘any means’ to shield citizens & allies from war crime probes

Jerry Lampen Reuters

Following the US Jerusalem embassy opening in May, and the shooting by Israeli soldiers of hundreds of Palestinian protesters, the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, recalled his envoy to the US and stopped communication.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in a statement: "This unsafe escalation shows that the United States is willing to disband the global system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine, as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region".

Donald Trump's administration has closed the Palestinian mission in the United States after accusing it of failing to pursue peace with Israel.

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in November that the Palestinians crossed that line two months prior.

The State Department accused the leadership of condemning "a USA peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise".

The Palestinian mission opened in 1994 and under a provision in US law, the mission must close if the Palestinians do not help move the peace process forward, according to ABC.

As Palestinians are forced to accept a halted peace resolution and an unlikely two-state resolution, experts expect a dynamic shift as more Palestinians demand for equal rights on par with their Israeli counterparts and citizenship.

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But the Palestinians were quick to blast the decision, condemning the Trump administration's "policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people", Dr. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian official, said in a statement.

Meanwhile in a speech on Monday, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced punitive measures against any anti-Israeli action by the ICC.

The Palestine Liberation Organization, commonly known as the PLO, formally represents all Palestinians.

The PLO office in Washington has always been a source of tension.

The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is now set to close.

Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO mission in Washington, called the closure of the office "bullying and blackmailing" and said the USA government was "blindly executing Israel's 'wish list'".

The Palestinians were angered by Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and to move the U.S. Embassy there.

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The Palestinians accused the Trump administration of being one-sided.

Ghaith Al Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the decision is "not irrelevant" but "will not achieve its stated objective of bringing the Palestinians to negotiations".

"Practically speaking however, not much will change".

He has also sided with Israel on core issues in the conflict, such as recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as its capital, while publicly asking for no concessions in return. The White House has not said when the office will officially shutter. This justification (and move) is either unwise a/or disingenuous.

Trump has delivered a number of blows to the Palestinians during his time in office.

"They have made clear their intentions to avoid any process led by the Trump administration...there's no reason the Trump administration should keep their office open in Washington", he told The National.

"Should an investigation go forward, the Trump administration's best response would be to engage openly with the ICC by making a genuine and transparent domestic effort to investigate, and, where warranted, prosecute those Americans most responsible for serious crimes connected with the Afghan war", wrote Kip Hale, an attorney who has worked at other war-crimes tribunals, in Foreign Affairs previous year. Liz Evenson, associate worldwide justice director at Human Rights Watch, said Bolton's threats "show callous disregard for victims of atrocity crimes".

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