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November 27, 2017

American hubris


November 27, 2017

Palestinian officials were in for a rude shock last week when they discovered that the US State department had decided to close the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) office in Washington DC. Although the Americans have reversed the closure order – apparently, for 90 days – it is rather obvious that the US has been pursuing a much more aggressive policy towards Palestine under the Trump administration – even though it is obvious that the region can afford no more turmoil. The trouble is that the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia all seem intent on pursuing their aggressive stance. This is the same kind of hubris that started the Afghan and Iraq wars as well as the interventions in Syria and Libya. All of these have been disasters of epic proportions. The logic deployed by the US that the PLO is going against conditions set by the US Congress – of not taking Israel to the International Criminal Court – is a ridiculous one. For one, Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas only verbally intimated that Palestinian officials would take the issue of illegal Israeli settlements to the ICC. No actual case has been filed. But more than that, threatening to or attempting to shut down the PLO’s offices is an act of a bully who has no respect of international law.
Such an extreme step is like holding a gun to the head of a hostage who does not have any leverage to pay the ransom. If anything, pressure needs to be exerted on Israel. After all, it is Israel that is the reason why talks are not continuing. It is Israel that is continuing human rights violations. And it is Israel that is disrespecting UN Security Council resolutions. The angry Palestinian response to the US action is fully justified. This is an attempt at ‘extortion’ as the Palestinian state has rightly called it. Palestine announced that it would no longer talk to the US while Abbas called the decision ‘unprecedented’ in a strongly worded statement. Though the US does not recognise Palestine as

a state, the PLO office in Washington DC has operated since 1994 to facilitate talks with the US on the peace process in the Middle East. The Trump administration is only making things worse in the Middle East. It is clear that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s constant shuttling back and forth between Jerusalem and Ramallah to implement the so-called ‘blueprint’ for peace in the region is going to end up in disaster.

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