U.S. Closure of PLO Mission Could Undermine Two-state Solution, Germany Warns

Berlin says the Trump administration's decision could complicate efforts to bring the Palestinians and Israel back to the negotiating table

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 14, 2018.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, September 14, 2018.Credit: AFP

Germany's Foreign Ministry said the U.S. decision to close the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington could complicate trying to get Palestinians and Israelis back to the table to discuss a two-state solution.

Spokeswoman Maria Adebahr told reporters Friday that the decision is a bilateral issue, but the Foreign Ministry fears it could complicate "the resumption of talks for a two-state solution."

>> Opinion: Closing PLO office is part of Trump's effort to tame the Palestinians via humiliation. It's bound to fail

The Trump administration notified the Palestinians last year it planned to shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel, and on Monday made good on that promise, announcing the mission was being closed.

The Palestinian representative in the United States, Dr. Husam Zomlot, responded with rage to the announcement. "Palestinian rights are not up for sale or negotiation. We will not be subject to blackmail and threats by the American administration," said Zomlot, who is currently in Ramallah after being called back to the West Bank several weeks ago.

The closure of the diplomatic mission is the latest in a recent string of measures the Trump administration has taken against the Palestinians. In recent weeks, Washington announced it was cutting its entire funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), its $200 million aid budget to the Palestinians, $25 million meant to support six East Jerusalem hospitals.

>> Analysis: Palestinians rage at Trump's closure of U.S. mission, but some in Ramallah see an opportunity

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's senior aide and son-in-law, told The New York Times on Thursday that the moves have not hampered the possibility of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. On the contrary – Kushner said he thinks Trump has promoted the peace process by shattering several "false realities" that were created over the years, which he felt "needed to be changed."

Despite the Palestinian Authority's boycott of the Trump administration, Kushner was optimistic about the odds of mending the rift. He claimed not to be impressed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' "posturing," which he partially accredited to the nature of Abbas' domestic politics.

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