'The Palestinians went too far'

'Trump refused to turn the other cheek', says senior Israeli cabinet member after US closes PLO mission in Washington.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yuval Steinitz
Yuval Steinitz
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud), a member of the Israeli security cabinet, applauded the decision by the White House earlier this week to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington DC over the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to commit to the resumption of final status talks with Israel.

“I’m surprised the decision didn’t come earlier,” Steinitz said in an interview with Radio 103FM.

“The Palestinians already went too far in their very public refusal to [renew] peace talks. I can’t imagine Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] telling Vladimir Putin that he wishes his home would be destroyed, the way he did to the American president,” Steinitz continued, referencing Abbas’ comments at a PLO Central Council meeting in Ramallah this January.

“I saw his tweet which said that ‘We will not give aid to the Palestinians because they refuse to relaunch negotiations’,” Abbas said in January, cursing the president in Arabic, “May your house be destroyed.”

The US, Steinitz continued, “is the country that gives the most aid to the Palestinians. The [Palestinian Authority] went too far in their attempts to harm Israel; the US is totally justified in its decision [to close the PLO mission] given their refusal to take steps towards peace.”

Steinitz said it was unlikely that Israel pushed the US to close the PLO mission.

“I don’t think there was any need to do so. The US has a government that has decided not to turn the other cheek in the face of Abu Mazen’s [Mahmoud Abbas] slaps. Abu Mazen’s comments to the American president were really directed at the US as a whole, and were irresponsible and unprecedented. What other leader would talk that way towards the US? The time has come for the Palestinians to recognize that there is a price to pay for their behavior towards us and in the international arena.”

On Monday, the PLO announced that the US had ordered the closure of its Washington DC mission. The US State Department later confirmed the move, stating that the Palestinian Authority (PA) had consistently refused to engage with the US government or to support peace talks with Israel.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017," a State Department spokesperson stated.

Last November, the Trump Administration surprised the PA when then- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had determined that the PA ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the PA tries to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinian Arabs.

Later, however, State Department officials said that it was decided to keep the delegation open for at least 90 days, and at the end of that period, Trump could announce that he is prolonging its activity because it is vital for supporting "meaningful" Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.