RAMALLAH: The former Palestinian envoy to the US seemed upbeat as he met with Arab News at the newly renovated Ramallah municipality park.
“We’ve been freed,” said Husam Zomlot, referring to US constraints placed on the Palestinians that have disappeared now that the Trump administration has cut off funding and closed the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington. “We must now get busy building an international alliance for peace.”
US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the State Department’s decision to close the office reflected “congressional concern with Palestinian attempts to prompt an ICC (International Criminal Court) investigation of Israel.” Zomlot said: “We’re free to design an effective strategy of liberation, and to move in any direction that our leadership chooses that can advance our goal of freedom from occupation.”
Referring to an accelerated campaign to join tens of international organizations as the state of Palestine, he added: “We’re free to forge any alliance we wish, and to join in any international organization we choose.” The US has vowed to leave any international organization that Palestine joins.
Zomlot described the Trump administration’s decisions to shut the PLO office, and to revoke his visa and those of his family, as “totally unnecessary and spiteful.”
Referring to the decisions to defund church-run hospitals in Jerusalem, and to invalidate family visas, he said: “Clearly the US administration has lost it.”
Zomlot, who is expected to be reassigned to a major European capital, said he believes that these decisions are due to influence from Israel’s government, and the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to be blackmailed.
“On Sept. 28, 2017, (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu demanded the closure of our mission (in Washington). One year later, his prediction has turned into US policy,” said Zomlot
He laments that he is unable to continue engaging Americans about the Palestinian cause, saying: “In the short period that I was in Washington, we saw real change in public opinion and in Congress.”
Zomlot added that he was most pained by the fact that some of the young staffers he had hired had to be let go due to the office closure.
“It was hard to say goodbye to these young energetic leaders, but I told them that the case of Palestine continues to need their work, and that we’ll be back soon,” he said.