United States announces closure of Palestinian mission in Washington

The United States on September 10, 2018 announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) mission in Washington DC. Explaining the move, the US state department said that the PLO leaders had failed to engage with US efforts to bring about peace with Israel and attempted to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.

The move is the latest in a series of measures by the Trump administration against the Palestinian leadership. The PLO, the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinian people, opened the mission in 1994. The US State Department said that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office failed to take steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.

A statement from the department read, “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.”

It added that the PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. The department further blamed the Palestinians for being unwilling to negotiate.

Palestinian leaders described the US move of closing the Palestinian mission in Washington as a declaration of war on peace efforts by the administration of President Donald Trump. PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called the decision a “dangerous escalation.” He added that this is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people.

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