JERUSALEM, Israel – Saeb Erekat, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization, has threatened to cut off communication with the Trump administration if it closes the PLO’s diplomatic office in Washington.
Late Friday, the Trump administration said the PLO cannot operate an office in Washington while it petitions the International Criminal Court at The Hague to open an investigation against Israel.
Erekat, who just underwent a lifesaving lung transplant in the U.S., said he was responding to a notice from the State Department. He called the decision “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” accusing the Trump administration of bowing to pressure from Israel “at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal,” the P.A.’s Wafa news agency reported.
“We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration,” Erekat said in videotaped statement.
Meanwhile, P.A. spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the State Department’s announcement took them by “deep surprise…particularly since President Mahmoud Abbas’ meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump were characterized by a full understanding of steps to create a climate that allows for the resumption of the peace process.”
“The Palestinian side has not received any ideas even though many months have passed and in spite of numerous meetings held with the U.S. side, which disqualifies the U.S. administration from playing the role of a mediator and removes itself from the job as sponsor of the political process to achieve the peace President Trump has promised to reach,” Rudeineh’s statement read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the State Department notice by saying, “We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.”
With regard to the proposed peace agreement, Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting “We heard a lot of speculation over the weekend.”
“My attitude toward this plan will be determined according to national and security interests, and we’ve made those clear to our American friends.”
While the PLO continues its efforts to persuade the ICC to charge Israel with alleged crimes against its population, the P.A.’s monthly payment to convicted terrorists and their families has not gone unnoticed.
Last week, the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill paving the way to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority in what’s come to be known as “pay to slay.”
The administration is also aware of Abbas’ role in promoting incitement against Israel.
At a meeting last June in Bethlehem, President Trump accused Abbas of lying to him in Washington the month before.
“You tricked me in D.C.,” Newsweek quoted the president’s statement to Abbas at the time. “You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement.”
At first Abbas insisted the meeting went well, later admitting it hadn’t and blaming it on Israeli “incitement” against him.
This article originally appeared on CBN News, November 20, 2017, and reposted with permission.