US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday justified the US State Department’s closure of the Washington mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, saying all the Palestinians have ever done is ask for money and badmouth the US.
She also said that Washington is still waiting for them to come to the negotiating table.
“All they’ve done is have their hand out asking for money, badmouth the United States, not come to the table on the peace deal — why would we have a PLO office?” she in an interview with Fox News. “Why would we continue to fund the Palestinians?”
Asked if she thought President Donald Trump’s strong-arm tactics would change the policies of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has shunned American officials since Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, she said it was “totally up to the Palestinians.”
Haley said that the US was ready to negotiate a peace deal as soon as Abbas was prepared to join the discussions.
“If the leadership of the Palestinians came to the table, automatically you’re going to have a peace plan. Negotiations are going to happen. Neither side is going to like it,” she said. “But the Palestinians have more to gain than Israel ever will.”
Haley said that the Trump administration was continuing to work on its long-awaited peace plan, even though Abbas has washed his hands of it.
“This isn’t going to stop our work on the peace deal. We are moving forward, we’re going to continue to push it,” she said. “We’re going to continue to hope that they see the error of what they’ve done and come back to the table, and we will welcome them when they do.”
Haley was reiterating the message of the State Department when it announced the closure of the PLO offices on Monday.
The announcement came as US anger has swelled over Palestinian resistance to its peace overtures and calls by the PA for the International Criminal Court to investigate Israel.
On September 1, the State Department announced an end to all its funding for UNRWA, the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, castigated the agency for failed practices, and indicating that it rejected the criteria by which UNRWA defines Palestinian refugees, whereby the UN agency confers refugee status not only on original refugees but on their millions of descendants.
A public opinion poll published on Wednesday found that a majority of Palestinians oppose renewed dialogue between the Ramallah-based PA leadership and the Trump administration.
Fifty percent of Palestinians believe that if the US presents a peace plan to resolve the conflict with Israel, the Palestinian leadership should dismiss it out of hand because “it must be bad for the Palestinians,” while 31% favor reviewing the substance of the American plan before rejecting or accepting it, the poll also found.
Only 14% of Palestinians said that if the US were to put forward a plan, their leadership should accept it “because it will certainly be better than the status quo,” according to the survey.
Agencies contributed to this report.