US newspaper describes PLO’s Washington mission ‘ghost of an office’

WASHINGTON, The prestigious American newspaper, the Washington Post, described the Palestine Liberation Organization General (PLO) Mission in Washington in a report published Friday as ghost of an office after the US State Department had ordered it closed.

The closure of the mission in Washington and revocation of visas for the Palestinian head of the mission, Husam Zomlot, and his family which forced him to take his children out of their school and return home, were only one of several measures the administration of President Donald Trump has taken in recent months to punish the Palestinians for not going along with its vision for a settlement to the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a vision the Palestinians insist rids them of all their legitimate rights to have a national state on parts of their historic homeland, now called Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The US measures started with recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel in December followed by moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, the day Palestinians were marking 70 years of their Nakba (catastrophe) following their dispersal and loss of homeland. Moving the embassy came in violation of international law that considers Jerusalem as occupied territory whose future will be determined in negotiations.

Then in January came the decision to slash part of the US aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), to be followed few months later with a decision to stop all $365 million in annual US aid to the humanitarian organization that serves social, health and educational needs of 5.4 million Palestinian refugees. This move was seen as aimed to end the Palestinian refugee issue and their right of return as per United Nations Resolution 194 of 1949.

After that came a decision to cancel $200 million in US aid to infrastructure projects in the occupied Palestinian territories, then another $25 million earmarked to East Jerusalem’s Palestinian hospitals and another $10 million Congress had allocated to joint Palestinian-Israeli projects.

Last but not least, on September 10 the US State Department ordered the closure within 30 days of the PLO mission in Washington and all public operations to cease by September 13, the anniversary of the Oslo Accords the PLO and Israel had signed in 1993 at the White House and witnessed by then President Bill Clinton.

But the Palestinians did not wait the full 30 days to leave the office and most staff has already left it long before that leaving behind a ghost of an office, as reported by the Washington Post.

This ghost of an office is a metaphor for the collapsed state of US-Palestinian relations, with vestiges of the structure remaining but nothing of substance happening, said the Post, which quoted Zomlot calling the closure a bullet in the heart of a bilateral relationship, and a political, diplomatic malpractice in the highest order, which will have severe consequences on relations we have with the administration.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency