Trump instructs closure of PLO offices in Washington

The Trump administration is expected to announce its intention to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to publicize the decision today, during his speech to the Federalist Society in Washington. During his address, Bolton will emphasize that “The Trump administration will not keep the office open, when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” In addition, Bolton will assert, according to a draft of his speech seen by TV7, that “The United States will always stand with (its) friend and ally, Israel,” further vowing to provide Jerusalem support within international bodies, including within the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where the Palestinians seek to advance legal proceedings against the Jewish state. The Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington did not immediately respond to TV7’s request for comment.

In addition to the United States’ decision to close the PLO’s offices in Washington, the U.S. State Department announced a decision to divert 20 million dollars in aid earmarked for Palestinian hospitals in east Jerusalem. According to the statement, the decision came as part of a review of all U.S. aid to the Palestinians, to ensure the funds were being spent in accordance with American national interests and were providing value to U.S. taxpayers. In response to this decision, the Palestinian Authority condemned the Trump administration, saying its decision was Washington’s latest “act of extortion.” Authority Prime Minister’s office argued in a statement that “This shameful decision that comes under the claims of President Trump ‘to cut aid to Palestinians until they reach a peace deal’ shows a different level of the Trump administration’s blackmailing approach.” The statement further warned that the formula adopted by President Trump does not bolster “peace-building,” rather it punishes Palestinian citizens to compromise their rights to independence,” which the statement claimed, “is granted (to them) by International Law and UN resolutions, like any other nation in the world.”