Palestinians threaten to cut ties with U.S. if PLO office is shut


"This is very unfortunate and unacceptable", he said, blaming pressure being exerted on the US administration by the Israeli government, an accusation the Israelis pushed back on.

Under conditions imposed by Congress, the PLO can not operate a Washington office if it calls the ICC to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

He accused the USA of bowing to pressure from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, just as he said the Palestinians are "trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal".

It is true that the Israelis and Palestinians are not now engaged in active talks, but President Trump has placed his son-in-law, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, at the helm of USA efforts to broker a peace deal.

Though the USA does not recognize Palestine as a state, the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents all Palestinians, maintains an office in Washington, D.C., in order to continue talks with the U.S.

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Should Washington proceed with its reported plans to shut down the PLO mission, Palestine would cut off all communication with the Trump administration, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday, AP reported.

The U.S. official said Washington is hopeful any "closure will be short-lived", emphasizing that "we are not cutting off relations with the PLO, nor do we intend to stop working with the Palestinian Authority". President Obama allowed the Palestinians to fly the flag over their office, upgrading the status of their mission, in 2011.

Malki told the AFP that Palestinian officials had received a letter from Washington two days ago "saying that the secretary of state had not found enough reasons to keep the office open". The threat of losing their office in the USA capital could become another pressure point as the Trump administration seeks to persuade the Palestinians to come to the table.

"The Palestinian side has not received any ideas, even though many months have passed and in spite of numerous meetings held with the U.S. side, which disqualifies the United States administration from playing the role of a mediator and removes itself from the job as sponsor of the political process", Rudeineh's statement said.

The Trump administration put the Palestinian Liberation Organization on notice Friday that it will close the group's office in Washington if the Palestinians don't get serious about peace talks with Israel, State Department officials said. Israel vehemently opposes any Palestinian membership in United Nations -related organizations until the two sides reach peace.

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"This is a matter of US law".

The State Department says President Mahmoud Abbas crossed the line in September when he called on the International Criminal Court "to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people" in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.

Only a day earlier, department officials had said the office could stay open if President Donald Trump determined that the Palestinians were in serious peace negotiations with Israel.

However, the law does not specifically define what constitutes direct or meaningful negations.

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