PLO Office in Washington Source: dw.com/

PA: Trump closing Washington PLO office is “vicious blackmail”

PNN/ Ramallah/
 The Trump administration on Monday is expected to announce that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, The Wall Street Journal reported today.
Citing unidentified White House officials, the WSJ said the announcement is expected to be made in prepared remarks by National Security Adviser John Bolton, and is part of a widening U.S. pressure campaign on Palestinian officials amid stalled Middle East peace efforts, the paper reported.The U.S. “will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton plans to say in his prepared remarks, the Journal reported, citing a draft it had reviewed.

He also plans to threaten to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it moves ahead with investigations of the U.S. and Israel, the paper said. Actions the U.S. could take include banning ICC judges and prosecutors from entering America.

“We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” the paper reported Bolton was planning to say. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

This comes after a series of measurements against the Palestinian leadership and people, including moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and announcing Jerusalem the capital of Israel in May, in addition to the recent cut of funding to the UNRWA, which is responsible for aiding millions of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

Senior PLO official, Dr. Saeb Erekat described the decision as 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.

Erekat said that the leadership in response will take the necessary measures to protect the rights of Palestinian citizens living in the United States to access their consular services.

“This dangerous escalation shows that the US is willing to disband the international 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,” Erekat said in a statement.

“We reiterate that the rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to US threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence, including by all political and legal means possible.  Accordingly, we continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.| he added.

Erekat concluded by saying that the international community has the responsibility to react.

“Lowering the flag of Palestine in Washington DC means much more than a new slap by the Trump Administration against peace and justice; it symbolizes the US attacks against the international system as a whole, including the Paris Convention, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council among others,” he added.

To her part, PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement “It is ironic that the US is punishing the PLO, the national representative of the Palestinian people and the highest political body that made the commitment to reaching a political and legal settlement of the Palestinian question and that has engaged in negotiations with successive US administrations for decades.”

“This form of crude and vicious blackmail, as clearly articulated by officials including US President Trump, United States Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, senior advisor to President Trump Jared Kushner, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, once again seeks to punish the Palestinian people as a whole who are already victims of the ruthless Israeli military occupation,” Ashrawi said.