U.S. freezes bank accounts and expels members of the PLO

The Trump Administration has reportedly decided to freeze all bank accounts belonging to members of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the United States, just one week after the White House decided to close the PLO’s offices in the American capitol. According to the Palestinian envoy to the U.S. Husam Zomlot, his permit to stay in the U.S. has also been annulled, his families’ bank accounts have been closed and Immigration Authorities instructed him and his family to immediately leave the country. In addition to these measures, the New York Times reported over the weekend that ‘The Trump Administration will halt funding for the last aiding source beneficial for the Palestinians. Quoting U.S. officials, the Times reported that the Conflict Management and Mitigation Program, which allows the Palestinians to benefit from US funding to strengthen Israeli-Palestinian ties, would not receive further funding in addition to the aid that was already approved and is expected to end in September. Instead of funding Israeli-Palestinian relations, the agency will reportedly divert its financial-aid to programs that bolster relations between Israeli Arabs and Jews.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is among the PLO officials affected by the latest American measures, voiced skepticism about Washington’s ability to present its long-awaited peace initiative, while accusing the Trump Administration of siding with Israel on core issues of the decades old conflict – a reality that Erekat claims: “buries all chances for Middle East peace.” Erekat stated that “I don’t think they will ever introduce a plan, because the whole world is rejecting this plan. The whole world is rejecting their ideas. They’re already implementing their plan by changing the terms of reference provided for the peace process between Palestinians and the Israelis and this is not do-able. The only solution is to implement resolutions 242 and 338. The only solution is to establish a Palestinian state where East Jerusalem is (the) capital on the 1967 lines and to resolve issues for permanent status including refuges on the basis of resolution 194.”

Erekat’s comments came after Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, announced several days ago, that Washington was prepared for criticism of its peace plan and that both Israel and the Palestinians can expect parts they will like and dislike. That said, he provided no additional details.