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Trump administration will close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in DC

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, speaks to journalists on Sept. 1 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The Trump administration will shut down the PLO office in Washington D.C. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration announced Monday that it will close the main office for the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C.

What is the PLO?

The PLO is a group in charge of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. It does this through the Palestinian Authority, a governing body that it created.

While the charter laying out the initial organization of the PLO charter called for the destruction of Israel in 33 separate articles, it formally recognized Israel's right to exist in 1993, in return for Israel recognizing it as the “official representative” of and the point of contact for the Palestinian people.

Even when the PLO had agreed to recognize Israel's right to exist, its former leader Yasser Arafat refused to entertain the idea that Israel could retain even part of Jerusalem. Arafat also appointed members of the terrorist group Hamas to posts in the Palestinian Authority.

The PLO is headed by Mahmoud Abbas, who took control of the organization after Arafat died in 2004.

What happened Monday?

The Trump administration gave official notice to the PLO that it would be closing their office in Washington, D.C. National security adviser John Bolton said that the decision had been influenced by the PLO's lack of cooperation on the peace process in the Middle East.

“The United States will always stand with our friend and ally, Israel,” Bolton said on Monday. “The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

The PLO responded

In a news release, senior Palestinian diplomat Dr. Saeb Erekat called this move "dangerous escalation” that “shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine as well as against peace and security in the rest of our region.”

What else?

This follows the State Department announcing in August that it would cut more than $200 million in U.S. aid to the Palestinian authority. The State Department cut the funds after it conducted a review and decided that the funds were not being spent “in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer.”

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