United States reverses decision to close Palestinian office

Nov 27, 2017, 01:04
United States reverses decision to close Palestinian office

The veteran official noted that the Palestinians told the Trump team that they would only accept the two-state solution and work out the final-status issues according to worldwide resolutions as the basis for any future agreement.

According to The Associated Press, the office will be allowed to stay open with certain limitations, in particular, that the PLO's activities there be "related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians".

Trump has vowed to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians - a task that has baffled presidents with more experience in the Middle East than the real estate mogul.

A year ago, Donald Trump - who views himself as a world-class dealmaker - expressed hope that he could help achieve what he called "the ultimate deal": Peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The chaos that ensued after the announcement, with the USA unable for several days to explain if the office was truly closing and when, indicated it had caught much of the government off-guard. He noted that there are 27 draft laws now in Congress covering punitive measures against the Palestinians, including one calling for a halt to financial assistance and another calling for the U.S. embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki has said the USA decision "would hamper any hopes Washington has of brokering a Middle East peace deal". The State Department is reportedly hopeful that will happen.

Vasquez said the original position had never been meant to create leverage or impose pressure. It was the first time since the 1980s that the the State Department refused to renew certification of the PLO's office in the USA capital, which must be done every since months.

The PLO is the group that formally represents all Palestinians.

The diplomatic mission has been present in Washington since 1994. But it is possible that the Trump administration could throw aside some of the old political, intellectual and personal restrictions on US policy toward the conflict, and develop a more successful approach.While the American negotiating team is heavy on people with strong ties to Israel, it is theoretically possible that a solidly pro-Israel US government might be better placed to convince it to make concessions.Based on publicly available information so far, it is not clear what the Trump team will offer.

The ministry condemned a recently approved Israeli settlement plan and said it could lead to the isolation of East Jerusalem from its Palestinian surrounding, as well as the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from the Jordan Valley, which Israel wants to annex. Kushner and other top Trump aides have been shuttling to the region to meet with Palestinians, Israelis and officials from Arab nations.

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