Palestinians 'freeze' communications with United States over PLO office row

Pauline Gross
November 22, 2017

The move comes after the White House last week warned it could close the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) office in Washington.

"What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office?"

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has canceled meetings with US officials at various levels in response to a decision by the US State Department not to renew the license of the office of the Palestinian diplomatic representation mission in the United States.

"Saeb Erekat and Ambassador Zomlot are meeting with the higher authorities in Washington to seek clarifications about whether the office is going to be closed or not", he said.

Over the weekend a State Department official said that it could not renew a certification for the PLO office in the American capital that expired this month.

The Trump administration announced Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call on the International Criminal Court in September to investigate and prosecute Israeli officials for settlement activity and aggression against Palestinians had triggered a USA law that could lead to the closure. "Our meetings begin from our office, and the arrangements are there", Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP.

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According to the law, President Donald Trump can waive the closure if the Palestinians are involved in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

The decision comes after the Trump administration threatened to shut down the PLO office last week, citing a rarely invoked 2015 law saying that if the Palestinians move against Israel at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United States can close the PLO's base in the U.S. capital.

"We are not cutting off relations with the PLO", that statement said.

There is a 90-day period for Trump to consider whether the Palestinians are engaged in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel" before any decision is taken.

A report Saturday said the Trump administration threatened to close down the group's office in Washington. "We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region", said a statement issued Saturday night by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Other reports by GizPress

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