It’s official: the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington D.C. is being shut down by the Trump administration. It’s meant to apply pressure to the Palestinians who have bogged down peace talks with Israel. For months, progress on this front has been devolving, with Israel refusing to deal with a side that is beholden to terrorists and the Palestinians deciding willy nilly that the U.S. is in no position to broker a peace deal. Yeah, because a terrorist government representing the Palestinians has a lot of credibility – said by no one (via WSJ):
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 planned to add.
Senior Palestinian officials strongly condemned the Trump administration decision and described it as a “reckless escalation.”
BREAKING: State Department officially announces the PLO office in Washington is closing down pic.twitter.com/3IXilim5AL— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 10, 2018
The U.S. has already cut some $200 million in aid to the Palestinians. The PLO will now try to accelerate calls to investigate Israel by the International Criminal Court, according to the Journal. It’s a move that National Security Adviser John Bolton warned would reap consequences for the ICC, whom he feels is antithetical to American values. He said so at a Federalist Society speech today (via Axios) [bold text indicates portions of his speech]:
In November 2017, the ICC requested authorization to investigate American service members and intelligence personnel for committing war crimes in Afghanistan. Speaking on the eve of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Bolton pledged that the U.S. will not let international bureaucrats determine what actions are justifiable when it comes to defending the country from its enemies.
The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.
The New York Timeshad more on Bolton’s stance on the ICC:
“We will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the United States,” Mr. Bolton said. “We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and, we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system. We will do the same for any company or state that assists in an I.C.C. investigation of Americans.”
Mr. Bolton also announced that the United States would shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington — a decision linked to the International Criminal Court, which he said was being prodded by the Palestinians to investigate Israel.
Mr. Bolton’s hostile words, in what the White House has called his first major address as national security adviser, echoed the position he took as a senior official in the George W. Bush administration, when Mr. Bolton emerged as the most virulent foe of the court, which is based in The Hague.
John Bolton just announced the United States will withdraw ALL support from the ICC. pic.twitter.com/rq63ow65qu— Natalie Johnson (@nataliejohnsonn) September 10, 2018