The Trump Administration took a big pro-Israel step this week when it shut down the Palestinian Authority’s office in Washington, D.C.
The PA’s Washington office can’t be called an embassy because the Palestinian Authority is not a country. Moreover, Congress passed legislation in 1987 banning the Palestinian Liberation Organization from opening an office in the U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the law, saying, “I have no intention of establishing diplomatic relations with the PLO.”
But, as is often the case, Congress provided for exceptions and waivers. President Bill Clinton allowed the Palestinian Authority to open a mission in 1994 following the adoption of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Presidents of both parties have routinely issued waivers every six months allowing the office to remain open.
That is until last November when President Trump refused to sign the waiver. Now the State Department is telling the Palestinian Authority to pack up and get out of Washington, D.C.
Spokesperson Heather Nauert said today:
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017. However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.
“To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a 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. This decision is also consistent with Administration and Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.”