The Trump Administration announced the closure of the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington D.C. Without Palestine being formally recognized as a country by the United States, the PLO’s office has served as an important mouthpiece for the Palestinian population.
The official statement released by the U.S. Department of State said, “the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” The short press release goes on to state the closure is directly related to the Palestinian representation’s refusal to fully examine peace agreements drafted by the United States.
Here’s why the office closure is problematic: there is no foreseeable way this move advances peaceful relations between the Israeli state and Palestinian governments. Regardless of where people stand on the Israel and Palestine conflicts, everyone should be concerned about the U.S. government’s decision to close the PLO office.
Frustration with Palestinian resistance cannot be met with these actions. Lives are on the line. Shutting down another channel of communication will not push Israel and Palestine towards a peaceful coexistence.
The most disheartening and misleading segment of the U.S. Department of State’s press release was: “This action should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement. We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace.”
How are these actions not retreating from a peaceful resolution? Silencing the PLO’s voice in Washington D.C. is the first step towards completely shutting out Palestinian opinion in policy making.
The U.S. government’s decision to close the PLO’s Washington D.C. office comes months after the U.S. embassy was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—a move that spurred widespread outrage in Palestine and some resistance from Israeli citizens. Just as with the embassy move, the office closure is failing to recognize the final result of these actions.
Continuously ignoring Palestinian opinions will not end the conflicts plaguing the region. If United States leadership shifts to a peace seeking stance, the PLO office (or anything resembling an embassy) should be reopened to encourage actual discussion.