Germany: US closure of Palestinian mission complicates talks

TOI staff14 September 2018, 11:51 pm

People are seen outside the Palestinian Liberation Organization Delegation office in Washington DC on September 10, 2018. (AFP/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that the US decision to shut down the PLO embassy in Washington could complicate trying to get Palestinians and Israelis back to the table to talk about a two-state solution in the Middle East.

Spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told reporters that the decision is a bilateral issue, but the Foreign Ministry fears it could complicate “the resumption of talks for a two-state solution.”

The Trump administration notified the Palestinians last year it planned to shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel, and on Monday made good on that promise, announcing the mission was being closed.

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The mission ceased operations on Thursday but expressed hope the closure would be short-lived.

State Department officials on Monday ordered the office shuttered, in a bid to pressure the Palestinians to enter peace talks with Israel.

It was the latest point of tension between the administration of US President Donald Trump and the Palestinians, who cut off contact with Washington after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

“Today is the deadline” for closure, Husam Zomlot, who headed the Palestine Liberation Organization mission, said in a Facebook video addressed to “the great people of America.”

The closure came on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo accords, the first agreements between the rival Israelis and Palestinians which promised to end decades of deadly conflict, but which are now deadlocked and tarnished by soured relations.

Zomlot on Thursday denounced the “unfortunate and vindictive” US move to close the Palestinian mission.

“It was unsurprising to us the Trump administration gave us only two choices: either we lose our relationship with the administration or we lose our rights as a nation,” he said.

Husam Zomlot, the PLO envoy to Washington, speaks to reporters in Washington, DC, Aug. 17, 2017. (Ron Kampeas)

“Our president, leadership and the people of Palestine opted for our rights.”

Zomlot said the Palestinians were “extremely saddened by the current state of affairs.”

Addressing the “millions upon millions” of Americans who remain friends of the Palestinians, he hoped that “may we soon return to continue to be a symbol and a reflection of the historic relationship between the Palestinian and the American people.”

Prior to ordering the mission’s closure, the United States cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians and canceled its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The move to not grant the mission its normal six-month renewal came after Palestinian leaders allegedly breached the arrangement by calling for Israeli officials to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.


الْيَوْمَ الساعة الخامسة مساء بتوقيت واشنطن الموعد الذي حددته إدارة ترامب لإنهاء عمل بعثة فلسطين في واشنطن ووقف مخاطبة الشعب الأمريكي، بهذه المناسبة أرسلنا للشعب الأمريكي هذه الرسالةToday is the deadline for shutting down the work of the Palestinian mission to the US, following the decision of the US administration. On this occasion, we sent this message to the American people

Posted by Husam Zomlot on Thursday, 13 September 2018

Palestinian leaders say Trump’s White House is blatantly biased in favor of Israel and is seeking to blackmail them into accepting its terms.

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