US to close PLO office in Washington

National security adviser John Bolton plans to announce the PLO office’s closure in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, on Monday, Sep 10. (photo: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images)
National security adviser John Bolton also plans to threaten sanctions against International Criminal Court.

By Michael Gordon | The Wall Street Journal | Sep 10, 2018

All of this is making sure the U.S. will never ever play the role of the peacemaker.
— Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian representative to Washington

The Trump administration is expected to announce Monday that it will close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington, administration officials said Sunday night, widening a U.S. campaign of pressure amid stalled Middle East peace efforts.

“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” national security adviser John Bolton planned to say in a speech he is scheduled to deliver Monday, according a draft of his prepared remarks reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” he is planning to add.

Senior Palestinian officials strongly condemned the Trump administration decision and described it as a “reckless escalation.”

“We don’t think this is just about bullying . . . we believe this is about the implementing of Israel’s grocery list, they are implementing it rather than pressuring us,” Mr. Zomlot said on Monday, adding that relations between the Palestinians and Washington “are a historic low.”

He said the Trump administration’s move to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians and to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency; its criticisms of the way Palestinian refugees are defined at the United Nations; the Jerusalem move and its policy on settlements are evidence that the Trump administration is pressing ahead with its yet-to-be-revealed peace plan.

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