Trump Administration Shutting Down PLO Mission in Washington

Why it's the right thing to do.

In announcing the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) mission in Washington, DC on September 10, 2018, the U.S. State Department asserted that the Palestinians have failed to take steps “to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”  State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added that the decision was prompted by Palestinian plans to bring charges against Israel for war crimes to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Nauert stated that “The U.S. continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties are the only way forward.” She added, “We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace.” Nauert pointed out that the Palestinian leadership “has condemned the U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.  As such, and reflecting congressional concerns, the administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.”

The Palestinian leadership, in its unwillingness to have direct negotiations with Israel or reach a compromise that would afford them sovereignty and provide Israel with security, is resorting to the familiar Palestinian-Arab stance that is almost a century old.  No to the Peel Commission of 1937 that gave Palestinian-Arabs 75% of Western Palestine and 25% to the Palestinian Jews.  No to the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which would have given the Palestinian-Arabs a sovereign state.  (No to peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel or negotiations with it as resolved at the Khartoum Arab League Summit on September 1, 1967.) No commitment to the Oslo Peace Process (which ended with Arafat’s initiated Second Intifada in September, 2000).  It is premised on the Arab-Palestinians unwillingness to share the land with the Jews and their equal refusal to recognize the historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.  In appealing to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Palestinians are using it as a subterfuge to avoid negotiations with Israel.  Instead, they are alleging that Israel committed crimes in response to the recent clashes with Hamas, and that Israeli settlements are illegal.

As for the settlements, Israeli’s have as much right to settle in the Judea and Samaria as the Palestinians have.  The “West Bank” is not Palestinian land. It was Jordanian land until June, 1967.  Jordan occupied the area during the 1948 War of Independence, and annexed it in 1950, an act which was only recognized by Britain and Pakistan. The area was ostensibly designated to be part of the Arab-Palestinian state under the 1947 Partition Plan (UN Resolution 181).  The Palestinian-Arabs rejected the Partition Plan and chose instead to liquidate the newly born Jewish state in what was to become Israel’s 1948 War.  Following the Six Day War of June, 1967, the UNSC 242 declared that Israel should withdraw from “territories.” It specifically said not from all territories, in exchange for full peace (which Egypt and Jordan agreed to, and received in return their claims to the Sinai and portions of land along the Jordan River).  It clearly meant that Israel had the right to portions of the (West Bank) territory.  Therefore, the areas true designation is that of “Disputed Territory.”  The only way to resolve this dispute is by direct negotiations between the two parties.  Describing the territories as “occupied Palestinian territories” serves only the political agenda of the Palestinians and prejudges the outcome of future negotiations between the parties.  

In his Address to the Nation on September 1, 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared,

I have followed and supported Israel’s heroic struggle for survival, ever since the founding of the State of Israel 34 years ago. In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point.  The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.

The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas has organized the Gaza march over the border with Israel.  Using Palestinian civilians as “human shields,” they fired at Israeli soldiers defending the border and protecting the civilian population in nearby Negev communities.  Hamas has also provocatively fired rockets into Israel, targeting civilians including kindergartens.  Palestinian charges are so ludicrous that only biased international bodies such as the ICC would accept the charges of the Palestinians.  According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the ICC lacks jurisdiction over the Israeli-Palestinian issue, since Israel (like the U.S.), is not a member of the court, and because the Palestinian Authority (PA) is not a state.

On September 10, 2018, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, appearing before the Federalist Society, said that the ICC is “illegitimate and for all intents and purposes, is already dead to us” and was biased against Israel and called the institution as a whole, “Ineffective, unaccountable, and indeed, outright dangerous.” He went on to say,

While the court welcomes the membership of the so-called State of Palestine, it has threatened Israel, a liberal, democratic nation, with investigation into its actions to defend its citizens from terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Gaza.  There has also been a suggestion that the ICC will investigate Israeli construction of housing projects on the West Bank.

Bolton added,

If the court comes after us, Israel, or other U.S. allies, we will not sit quietly, we will ban its judges and prosecutors from entering the U.S.  We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system.  We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.

Zeev Jabotinsky, one of the giants of Zionism and the founder of Jewish self-defense organizations such as the Haganah and the Irgun, who inspired both Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Benjamin Netanyahu, wrote in his 1923 pamphlet The Iron Wall, that the Arabs would never voluntarily come to an agreement with the Zionists:

If the Zionists wanted a foothold in Palestine, Arab violence would have to be met with an Iron Wall…As long as the (Palestinian) Arabs feel that there is at least hope of getting rid of us, they will refuse to give up this hope in return for either kind words or for bread and butter, because they are not a rabble, but a living people.  And when a living people yields in matters of such vital character it is only when there is no longer any hope of getting rid of us, because they can make no breach in the iron wall.  Not till then will they drop their extremist leaders, whose watchword is Never!

Zeev Jabotinsky’s prophetic words are as true today as they were 95 years ago.  The Palestinian people are led by extremist leaders who will never compromise as long as they are personally living well while their people suffer, and as long as they believe that Israel can be destroyed by BDS campaigns or international organizations such as the UN and ICC. 

The Trump administration’s measures have served to fortify the Iron Wall by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and cutting aid money to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA).  UNRWA has perpetuated Palestinian victimhood and refused to rehabilitate and house the refugees as Israel did with its refugees from the Arab world.  Closing the Palestinian mission in Washington is yet another step that forces Palestinians to realize that Israel is here to stay, and they will have to either compromise or remain hopeless.