Trump shuts down PLO office in D.C.

Yesterday, the Trump administration ordered the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, saying that the PLO “has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” That’s for sure.

The Washington Post’s account of the story is here. You can almost see the tears Karen DeYoung shed writing it.

In the paper edition, the story’s subtitle is “another blow to Palentinians.” Perhaps. But the office has been in D.C. since the early 1990s. I’m not sure what good it did Palestinians.

I applaud the closing of the office. I also like the fact that the administration ordered the closure one day before the anniversary of 9-11. That was the day Palestinians took to the street to celebrate the successful attack by al Qaeda on the American homeland.

The Trump administration has recently taken other steps in response to the unwillingness of Palestinians to advance negotiations with Israel. It canceled most U.S. aid funding to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, it called for a redefinition of Palestinian refugee status and said it would no longer fund the U.N. refugee aid program. It thus dismissed the notion of any Palestinian “right of return,” a demand that effectively precludes a peace agreement.

According to the Post, “the Palestinians say those measures are designed to lay the groundwork for a yet-to-be-revealed U.S. peace proposal” by pressuring the PLO into a more accommodating posture. If so, it’s about time. For too long, all of our real pressure has been exerted on Israel, either because the U.S. government favored the Palestinians (as President Obama did) or because it viewed the Israelis as more susceptible to our pressure.

The Israelis are more susceptible, just not susceptible enough to forfeit their security, as the Palestinians demand.

So far, the PLO seems unmoved by the Trump administration’s pressure. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat declared that the U.S. is not “part of the peace process” and does not even have the right to “sit in the room” during any negotiations.

What peace process? What negotiating room?