Diplomacy

TIP Spokesman: Palestinian Refusal to Negotiate with Israel Prompted Closing of PLO Mission

The Trump administration in September ordered the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, D.C., citing the refusal of Palestinian leaders to enter into peace talks with Israel. In an interview with J.J. Green of Target USA: the National Security Podcast, Kenneth Bricker, a spokesman for The Israel Project, said on Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership provoked the action.

Bricker explained to the host that the closure of the Palestinian mission “is part of a series of measures” taken by the Trump administration “to push back against” the Palestinian leadership’s boycott of peace negotiations with the United States, Israel and Arab allies.

Not only have they taken “themselves out of the peace process,” Bricker observed, they also “used foreign bodies and international institutions like the UN to attack Israel,” cultivating unilateralism at the expense of direct negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

If the international community allows that to continue, Bricker said, it’s “an incentive” for the PA to boycott peace negotiations. The Palestinians believe this tactic will allow them to get whatever they want “without sacrifices.” Of course, he said, that’s never going to happen with both parties expected to make painful concessions and compromises.

Bricker also reminded the audience that the PLO office in the U.S. was only accredited in the first place as part of the 1992 Oslo process based on the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to participate in peace negotiations. “That status,” he said, “the Palestinians have walked away from.”

Even more so, the PA has “rejected out of hand,” a peace plan currently being drawn up by the Trump administration’s Middle East team, backed by Israel and moderate Arab states. “They have not even considered it,” Bricker observed. “Under those circumstances it doesn’t make sense to confer a diplomatic status on the Palestinians.”

Instead of returning to the table, the PA is “complicit in inciting terror. That’s a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. It’s been going on like that at a steady pace and it’s getting worse.” Bricker clarified, “Any of the issues the Palestinians have won’t be resolved by violence. They need to negotiate.”

Bricker concluded saying what needs to happen is for all parties to return to direct negotiations. “There is nothing to discuss unless all three parties are willing to engage – two of them are, one is not.” He added, “The Palestinians have been absent from that [negotiating] table for four years. We would really love for them to come back into the room and help hash out these very difficult issues.”

A U.S. State Department spokesman said “the 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.”

A complete recording of Bricker’s remarks is embedded below.

[Photo: CGTN / YouTube ]