WASHINGTON — The U.S. has decided to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington, D.C., part of a broader, tougher stance against the organization here and abroad.
The State Department announced the decision Monday.
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement to the media.
“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. To the contrary, 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,” she said.
Among the administration’s specific objections to PLO actions was its attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court, Nauert said in the statement.
No closure date was announced.
The ordered closure comes after the White House announced the U.S. plan to end funding for U.N. operations that provide assistance to Palestinian refugees, reduce U.S. aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza, and cut funding to hospitals in Jerusalem that predominantly serve Palestinians.
“The United States continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward,” Nauert said. “This action should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement. We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace.”
Last year the State Department announced that the Palestinians had violated a legal provision that said the PLO could not have a Washington office if they seek to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians. They were given a waiver at that point.