Palestinians cancel DC Christmas party over White House moves

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s delegation to Washington has canceled its Christmas party planned for Wednesday night last minute, citing United States President Donald Trump’s upcoming speech on Jerusalem.

Trump will announce Wednesday that the US formally recognizes the ancient city as Israel’s capital. The move has drawn ire from Palestinian officials, who claim it will dramatically set back the president’s effort to forge a comprehensive settlement to the conflict.

The Palestinian reception, which was to be held in the House of Representatives, was themed “a Bethlehem Christmas,” and was expected to draw US lawmakers as well as senior Trump administration officials.

Trump sparks Mideast fury with Jerusalem embassy plan (Reuters)

“This was a difficult decision given your cherished enthusiasm and confirmation to attend the event together with hundreds of US congressional members, government officials, esteemed policy makers, respected religious leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, international dignitaries and our valued community and civil society leaders,” the delegation said in a statement.

“Out of care for our leaders and children, it might be unsuitable for them to speak and sing shortly after the possibility of an announcement that runs counter to the message of peace.”

The Trump administration has repeatedly clashed with the Palestinians in recent weeks, especially the PLO office in Washington, which it threatened to close last month after claiming it violated US law in calling for International Criminal Court prosecutions against Israelis.

The Palestinian envoy to Washington said this week that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital might represent a “death knell” to the peace process if it means that a future Palestinian state will not have part of Jerusalem as a capital all its own.

Meanwhile, the president will host his first Hanukkah party on December 7 at the White House.

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