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November 21, 2017 10:14 am

Palestinian Authority Freezes Contacts With Visiting US Officials Over Threatened Closure of PLO Office in DC

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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Kremlin.ru via Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he has frozen all contact with the US over the Trump administration’s move to shutter the Palestinians’ mission in Washington, DC.

“In practice, by closing the office, they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official,” PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told AFP.

The Palestinians’ move comes after the US State Department on Saturday declined to renew the operating permission for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Washington office for the first time since the 1980s. PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called the move “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused the Trump administration of capitulating to Israeli pressure.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed the Palestinians that the decision came in response to statements made by Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly in September, when the PA leader called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israeli officials. American law specifies that the PLO mission in Washington should be shuttered if the Palestinians initiate legal action against Israel at the ICC.

The State Department clarified that the office’s closure could be waived within 90 days if President Donald Trump “determines the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

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