A recent decision by the administration of President Donald Trump to close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in New York City has roiled the waters of US-Palestinian relations.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert explained the move: “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. However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel. To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise.”
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When running for office, Trump vowed to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was castigated for that campaign promise, but fulfilled his declaration on May 14, when the president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.
After taking office, he appointed former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley as UN ambassador. She is a strong conservative and a supporter of Israel. In her opening statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2017, Haley stated, “Nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel.”
Trump has said he would support the implementation of the Taylor Force Act, named for a West Point graduate and Vanderbilt University MBA candidate who was stabbed to death by a PLO terrorist in Jaffa in 2016. The legislation is designed to end financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority unless or until it halts compensation to terrorists and/or their families.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who first introduced the bill in 2016, said, “Passage of the Taylor Force Act will give us much needed leverage with the Palestinians to push back on this outrageous policy.”
The act is part of a $1.3-trillion omnibus spending bill that will likely soon be passed by Congress.
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In a speech on Monday confirming the closure of the PLO mission, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton warned the International Criminal Court at The Hague not to attempt to prosecute officials in either the US or Israel for so-called “war crimes.” Bolton cautioned, “If the court comes after us, Israel or other US allies, we will not sit quietly. The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.”
During President Trump’s first visit to Israel in May 2017, I flooded Jerusalem with massive “Trump Will Make Israel Great” billboards because I believe he will be the greatest US president in Israel’s history. I expressed my belief that Trump would move the embassy to Jerusalem to former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who said I was naive. According to him, no American president would ever do what I was suggesting.
Recently, I spoke briefly at a state dinner at the White House, thanking President Trump for all he has done for the Jewish people and for Israel. Earlier in 2018, I presented him with the Friends of Zion Award in the Oval Office. I thanked him for being a master builder who was laying the foundation for a genuine peace through the first Sunni alliance in America’s history. I also expressed gratitude that he was encouraging a zero-tolerance policy for terrorists, for recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and for refusing to reward Palestinians for funding terrorism.
The writer is a New York Times No. 1 best-selling author who has written 89 books. He is the founder of Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem and serves on the Trump Evangelical Faith Initiative.
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