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  • A Fatah ceremony commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank, Jan. 3, 2019.

    A Fatah ceremony commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the West Bank, Jan. 3, 2019. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 January 2019

“Mr. Pompeo, do you think that Arabs have a neon sign saying 'stupid' on their foreheads?” said Erekat of the latest U.S. sanctions.

Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat has reaffirmed the organization’s position against the “peace plan” promoted by the United States in the Middle East.

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Erekat’s declarations came in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s speech in Cairo, Egypt, where he reiterated a strategy to internationally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Pompeo also called the United States a “force of good” in the region that will bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

But Erekat said the opposite was suggested by the U.S. policies of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; ignoring the plight of Palestinian refugees; closing the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and the PLO office in Washington; declaring settlements in occupied territories legal; cutting all aid to Palestinians, including  to UNRWA and East Jerusalem hospitals; defining Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians as self-defense and threatening all nations that vote in favor of Palestine in the UN or any other international agency.

“Mr. Pompeo, do you think that Arabs have a neon sign saying 'stupid' on their foreheads?” Erekat concluded.

Erekat described Pompeo’s speech and strategy as an “offense for Palestine” and its cause of more than 70 years. He also denounced U.S. President Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile policy against the Palestinian people and reiterated the PLO’s demand for an internationally recognized Palestinian State.

“We need to end the Israeli occupation in order to defeat extremism and terrorism,” said Erekat.

In December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warned about dramatic cuts in aid to Palestine starting 2019 after the United States stopped funding aid programs. The measure affected about 193,000 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Three months earlier, the U.S. State Department announced Trump's administration would cut about US$25 million in aid originally intended for six hospitals, part of the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.

Also in September, Trump ordered the closure of the PLO office in Washington because the organization had “not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

At the same time, the senior security adviser, John Bolton, threatened anyone who cooperated with the International Criminal Court and Palestine’s legal complaints against Israel.

“The United States supports a direct and robust peace process,” he said, “and we will not allow the ICC, or any other organization, to constrain Israel’s right to self-defense.”

In May, Trump moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as Israeli forces killed at least 46 and injured more than 1,700 during a protest at the Gaza border. The move was followed by Guatemala’s President Jimmy Morales, the first in Latin America to do so.

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