Palestinians condemn US plan to close PLO Washington mission

Palestinians condemn US plan to close PLO Washington mission
2 min read
10 September, 2018
Palestinians have condemned US plans to shut down the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation [PLO], a move amid at widening a US pressure campaign.

Palestinians accuse Trump of using aid as a coarse lever to force them [Getty]

Palestinians have condemned US plans to shut down the Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation [PLO] on Monday, a move amid at widening a US pressure campaign.

Palestinian Authority [PA] Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat slammed the move in a statement on Monday saying Washington's decision was collective punishment against the Palestinian people.

"We have been notified by a US official of their decision to close the Palestinian Mission to the US," Erekat said, confirming a report published in the Wall Street Journal earlier in the day.

The report said National Security Adviser, John Bolton, would announce the decision in a speech on Monday - the latest in a string of US aid cuts to force Palestinians to agree to Trump's peace plan that he has dubbed the "deal of the century".

"This is yet another affirmation of the Trump Administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education," Erekat said.

"The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale, that we will not succumb to US threats and bullying and that we will continue our legitimate struggle for freedom, justice, and independence."

The US State Department on Sunday announced plans to cut $25 million in aid to six hospitals primarily serving Palestinians in occupied east Jerusalem.

Sunday's move followed the announcements to cut funds to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and scrapping around $200 million in payments by USAID to the Palestinians.

The PLO has also condemned the latest move.

"This is hypocritical and blatantly biased toward the extremist right-wing Israeli government," senior PLO official Ahmed Tamimi said.

Palestinians have refused to meet with the Trump administration since the US leader controversially recognised occupied Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

They accuse Trump of using aid as a coarse lever to force them back to peace talks with Israel.

Trump made it clear on Thursday he was working to get Palestinians back to the negotiating table.

"You'll get money, but we're not paying you until we make a deal," he said in Washington. "If we don't make a deal, we're not paying," Trump said.