U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton delivers a speech at the American Center in Tokyo Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2004. Bolton named North Korea, Iran and Syria among the worst proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, as he called for shipments to the countries and terrorist groups to be monitored more closely. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)


One of the reasons for the intractable state of the Middle East peace process, I would contend, is that the Palestinians, or really their leadership, have no vested interest in arriving at a negotiated solution. So long as there is no solution, the Palestinian leadership, i.e. the PLO and Hamas, wrap themselves in a cloak of martyrdom and avoid any accountability for their graft, corruption, and maladministration of the Palestinian territories. The same lack of seriousness of purpose ensures the UN funds what are demonstrably terrorist entities, that anti-Semites throughout Europe are encouraged to blame Israel for everything, and the Palestinian thugocracy is treated as though it was an actual government.

There are a lot of encouraging signs that under the Trump administration that this gravy train is ending. In the past eighteen months, the administration has green-lighted increasing the population density in some Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Jerusalem has been recognized as the capital of Israel, the US has just cut some $300 million from the UNRWA–the UN agency that funds anti-Semitic propaganda and discourages Palestinian “refugees” from assimilating in their host nations–and, last week, our ambassador said he could not imagine a situation under which Israel would relinquish the Golan Heights, clearly implying that US recognition of Israel’s conquest of that area was being considered. Today, however, the hammer came down.

In 1994, as a bit of baksheesh for participating in the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Liberation Organization, aka the Palestinian Authority, was allowed to open what amounted to an embassy in
Washington, DC. The idea was that recognizing the PLO with some trappings of statehood would result in the PLO leadership acting like the leaders of an actual nation. That certainly worked well. While numerous members of Congress have criticized this decision over a quarter of a century, the stupidity of rewarding Palestinian intransigence acquired a life of its own. Until today:

The Administration has determined after careful review that the office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington should close. 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 U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise. As such, and reflecting Congressional concerns, the Administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point. This decision is also consistent with Administration and Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinians reacted as expected. And they said this decision will result in them pressing ahead with an investigation of the US and Israel by the International Criminal Court and seeking the indictment of US and Israeli officials. National Security Adviser John Bolton had some thoughts on that

The PLO will speed up its efforts to challenge Israel in the ICC as a result of the U.S. decision, Mr. Zomlot said, as well as step up contacts to the American public, who he said don’t see the Palestinians the way the Trump administration does.

Mr. Bolton also plans to threaten to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it moves ahead with investigations of the U.S. and Israel.

“If the court comes after us, Israel or other allies, we will not sit quietly,” Mr. Bolton is planned to say, according to his prepared remarks.

Among the responses, Mr. Bolton says, the U.S. would ban ICC judges and prosecutors from entering the country.

“We will sanction their funds in the U.S. financial system, and we will prosecute them in the U.S. criminal system,” Mr. Bolton adds. “We will do the same for any company or state that assists an ICC investigation of Americans.”

The ICC over the summer said it was gathering information in response to information and a referral from the Palestinian government, asking the ICC to investigate the situation in Gaza since 2014 and other complaints.

The ICC hasn’t opened a formal investigation, and the inquiry represents the earliest stages of any decision by the court to open a probe. On Monday, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat called on the ICC to open an immediate investigation into what he said were Israeli crimes.

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