By Laurie Kellman, AP—
President Donald Trump is closing the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, the latest U.S. blow against the Palestinians and an international court during the stalled Mideast peace process.
Some things to know:
The administration’s move to close the PLO office in Washington is not directly connected to the Trump White House’s opposition to the International Criminal Court, although the administration is trying to link them.
But the Trump administration is trotting out discussions about the two on the same day — Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year — in a move certain to inflame the White House’s already bitter relations with Palestinians.
On the one hand, the State Department announced Monday that the administration is closing the PLO office in Washington because the Palestinians aren’t directly negotiating any peace agreement with Israel. A provision in a U.S. law says the PLO mission must close if the peace process does not go forward.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser John Bolton discussed the U.S. refusal to recognize the ICC, which the Palestinians are trying to get to prosecute Israel for war crimes. He said the U.S. would retaliate if the ICC tries to prosecute any Americans over conduct in Afghanistan.
The administration is trying to draw a connection between the two and pressure Palestinians to talk directly with Israel. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called the two developments “consistent.”
“This is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration’s policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people,” Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said.