Tracking deepened rift between U.S., Palestinian Authority



Tue, 11 Sep 2018 - 11:13 GMT


Tue, 11 Sep 2018 - 11:13 GMT

The Palestinian flag is seen above the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, DC, November 18, 2017. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

The Palestinian flag is seen above the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, DC, November 18, 2017. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images via JTA)

CAIRO - 11 September 2018: Questions are raised upon the outcome of the United States decision to shutter the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington after accusing Palestinian leaders of not cooperating to accomplish peace with Israel.

The goal of that step is pressuring the Palestinian Authority (PA) to accept the peace plan formulated by the United States, siding with Israel in rejecting the two-state solution with Eastern Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state and Western Jerusalem being the capital of the Israeli state.

The U.S. decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on December 6 without first reaching an agreement with Palestinians crippled peace talks, giving rise to international moves in favor of Palestinians.

The latest act is a reaction to threats by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to bring charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for committing crimes on the “occupied territories.” The authority joined the ICC on April 21, 2015 becoming the 123rd member and has been warning of filing cases against Israel.

White House National Security Advisor John Bolton labeled ICC as "unaccountable" and "outright dangerous" to the United States, Israel and other allies, threatening its judges of sanctioning their funds in the United States, prosecution before U.S. criminal court, and prohibition against entry to the country in case of probing Americans and citizens of ally states.

Bolton described any potential measure of the sort as "an utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation" citing an ICC prosecutor’s proposal to probe war crimes committed by the U.S. military and intelligence officials in Afghanistan over abuse of detainees.

The closure of the PLO’s office may also be an implicit threat of imposing sanctions on Abbas himself after severing relations with the PA which has been engaged in security coordination with Israeli forces to maintain U.S. funding for its security bodies.

The Palestinian presidency’s spokesperson Nabil Abou Rodaina said Monday that the preservation of Muslim and Christian sacred places, Jerusalem, and Palestinians rights is more important than relations with Israel.


A general view shows part of Jerusalem's Old City and the Dome of the Rock December 5, 2017 REUTERS/Ammar Awad

On December 6, U.S. President Donald Trump announced moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the city as the Israeli capital. The United States and Israel reject the two-state solution targeted by Palestinians and Egypt.

Consequently, international objection and protests in the Palestinian territories erupted. Clashes between protestors and Israeli security forces resulted in 10 deaths and over 2,000 injuries.

The Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly on the U.S. decision, called for by Turkey and Yemen, took place on December 20, three days after the United States vetoed the Egyptian-drafted resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) objecting the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Palestinian officials vowed to take all possible measures internationally after the veto on December 17 as the decision breaches all former United Nations (UN) resolutions on Israel and Palestinian territories.

The UN draft resolution, approved by the remaining 14 UNSC Member States stated that “decisions and actions, which purport to alter the character, status or demographic composition of the holy city of Jerusalem, have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.” The resolution, however, does not mention the U.S.


The protests started on March 30 marking the Palestinian “Land Day” dating back to 1976 when Palestinian lands were ceased by Israel to build kibbutz. The demonstrations aim at demanding the return of Palestinians to the towns and villages from which they were displaced as the Israeli state was expanding since its foundation in 1948.

Those clashes are the second to erupt after U.S. President Trump announced moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the city as the Israeli capital on Dec. 6, 2017.

On Dec. 9, about 3,000 people in Bangladesh gathered in front of the main mosque in the capital, Dhaka, to protest against Trump's decision. On Dec. 10, Tear gas was used to disperse protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Hamas spokesperson announced on July 21 that mediation by Egypt and the United Nations led to an agreement to reinstate peace between Palestinian factions and Israel.

The statement is issued one day after four Palestinians were shot dead, and an Israeli soldier was targeted by a sniper. The latter incident was the first since 2014. In the morning, the Israeli military declared it had bombarded five Hamas targets Northern Gaza in addition to 25 others in Khan Yunis to the south. It also stated that “the strikes would continue,” according to BBC.

An explosion is seen following an Israeli air strike in the southern Gaza Strip July 20, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Contrary to previous media reports unveiling a ceasefire, the Israeli army launched a series of attacks on Gaza Strip - the biggest since 2014 - in response to incendiary balloons and kites flown over the border allegedly burning 7,000 acres.

The fight, which sparked as protests against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, has continued for 17 weeks resulting in more than 140 casualties of mostly unarmed civilians as well as injuring hundreds, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Palestinian paramedics mourn over the death of their colleague Razan al-Najjar in a hallway of Khan Yunis hospital in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images)

Among those killed by the Israeli forces near the border fence is Palestinian medic Rasan al-Najjar, 21, who was shot dead in June. In April, Palestinian photographer Yaser Murtaja, 31, died after he had been wounded by Israeli fire while covering “The Great March of Return". Both were putting on vests indicating their professions.

Mourners and journalists carry the body of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, during his funeral in Gaza City on April 7, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

The Israeli authorities, on the other hand, denied any intentional killing, saying an investigation will take place.



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