After Israel’s Jerusalem affairs minister called for a million Jewish settlers to occupy the West Bank, the US is reportedly putting Palestine on notice. Its Washington office may be closed unless it enters into serious peace talks with Israel.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined the Palestinians violated an obscure US law that would make the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) close its office in Washington DC, unnamed US officials told the Associated Press on Friday.
Under the 2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act, the PLO is not allowed to initiate an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation, or actively support an ICC investigation that “subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”
The Trump administration decided to take action against the PLO after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the United Nations in September and called on the ICC to open an investigation, and to charge Israeli officials “for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”
President Donald Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to permanently close the PLO’s office or waive the law if he determines the Palestinians “have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
A State Department official told Haaretz that the US is “not cutting off relations with the PLO, nor do we intend to stop working with the Palestinian Authority.” The official said: “We remain focused on a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians that will resolve core issues between the parties. This measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the US is backing off those efforts.”’