White House closes Palestine Liberation Organization office in D.C. due to lack of 'meaningful negotiations with Israel'
The Palestine Liberation Organization office in the nation's capital is closing.
In announcing the closure Monday, the State Department said that the PLO "has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel," reports The Washington Post. The move escalates the growing disharmony between the Trump administration and Palestinian leaders, who called the office's shuttering a vicious display of "collective punishment."
U.S. officials previously angered Palestine by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and opening a new embassy in the city, and by significantly rolling back aid to Palestinian refugees. "These people have decided to stand on the wrong side of history by protecting war criminals and destroying the two-state solution,” said chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that the U.S. still wants to see Israel and Palestine work to find a "way forward" through direct negotiations. The PLO office's closure represents the last of any symbols of Palestinian sovereignty in Washington, reports Axios. The office functions as an embassy in D.C., though the U.S. does not recognize a Palestinian state.
"PLO leadership has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” the statement from the State Department said. PLO officials accused the Trump administration of attempting to irreversibly damage the U.S.'s role in two-state negotiations. The office will close by Oct. 10. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza
The Trump administration will soon debut its Israel-Palestine peace plan, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview published Sunday by Al-Quds, an Arabic language newspaper.
The proposal will be released with or without feedback from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he announced. Abbas has refused to meet with Kushner during his trip to the Middle East this past week. "If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage," Kushner said. "If he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly."
The Al-Quds article offered some hints as to what the plan might entail. Kushner "mentioned nothing about a sovereign Palestinian state or of Palestinian refugees," The New York Times reports, and "also did not mention Israeli settlements on the West Bank or using the 1967 lines as a starting point to draw borders; and nothing about East Jerusalem serving as the Palestinian capital." Bonnie Kristian
The Trump administration is putting the final touches on its plan to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, will travel to the Middle East next week with international negotiations representative Jason Greenblatt, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
The trip to Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia will be an opportunity to discuss "the next stages of the peace efforts" in the region, the White House said, and to finalize a plan that will reportedly be released in August. Kushner and Greenblatt will not visit any Palestinian cities, reports AP, in part because Palestinian leaders are boycotting talks with U.S. officials over accusations of bias.
Greenblatt, the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, publicly clashed with Palestine's chief negotiator this week, publishing an op-ed in an Israeli newspaper to condemn his "false claims" and accuse him of making a potential peace agreement more difficult.
Kushner, for his part, was a prominently visible figure in the controversial embassy-opening ceremony in Jerusalem last month, where the U.S. unveiled the new facility while protests raged along the Gaza Strip. Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire, as demonstrators protested the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim, as the capital of Israel. Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza