MK Touma-Sliman on Closing of PLO’s DC Office: “Trump Wants to Force Palestinians to Surrender”

The Palestinian Authority was defiant on Monday, September 10, despite the continuing spate of US imperialistic threats and measures, the latest being the closing of the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington DC.

In his first major public address since becoming National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, John Bolton officially announced on Monday the closing of the PLO office in his country’s capital, citing failure of the Palestinians to take steps “to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” Bolton said the “PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and has refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.” Bolton’s announcement also cited concern over Palestinians going to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israeli officials over its war crimes against the Palestinian people.

Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu

Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: US Embassy in Israel)

A leading member of the Communist Party of Israel (CPI), MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash-Joint List), said in response, “The United States administration is trying to force the ‘deal of the century’ on the Palestinian people and is starting to implement it. By closing the PLO offices Trump is trying to force the Palestinian leadership into surrender and to squeeze its compliance into a negotiation under the conditions the administration has set.”

“The Palestinian people has never put its hopes into any American administration and will not agree to allow Trump to set its destiny; these steps will only cause more mayhem. The international community must stand up against such aggressive steps.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), said that “holding on to Jerusalem and preserving it and our Palestinian people’s rights, especially, and in addition to Jerusalem, the refugee issue and the rest of the rights that our people and leadership are in consensus over, are more important than the relationship with the United States.”

Palestinian negotiator and PLO Executive Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat said, “This dangerous escalation shows that the US is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region.”

“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. In this regard, we will take the necessary measures to protect the rights of our citizens living in the United States to access their consular services,” Erakat added, reiterating the PLO’s call for the ICC to open “its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes.”

PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi responded to the American decision, saying, “It is extremely cruel and spiteful to persist in deliberately bashing the Palestinian people by denying them of their rights, giving away their lands and rightful capital of Jerusalem, and defunding UNRWA and Palestinian institutions, including East Jerusalem hospitals.”

She added, “This form of crude and vicious blackmail once again seeks to punish the Palestinian people as a whole who are already victims of the ruthless Israeli military occupation. Such irresponsible moves are clear proof of American collusion with Israel’s occupation and the rewards, inducements and incentives it provides Israel, as well as a total ignorance of the requirements of a just peace based on international law and respect for human rights.”

In the US, the Jewish peace group J Street condemned the decision in a statement, commenting on the fact the declaration came as “American Jews, who overwhelmingly support a two-state solution, are observing Rosh Hashanah in their homes and communities.” The group’s statement said the move would choke off “bilateral and multilateral assistance benefiting Palestinians in dire need of clean water, medicine and education,” and slammed the Trump administration for “kicking the legs out from under any possible negotiating table.”