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Palestinians threaten to cut ties with USA if Washington office closed

22 November 2017

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.

"We are in contact with the Palestinian officials about the status of that PLO office".

In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations called on the ICC "to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people". The move follows the U.S. decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in America's capital.

The Trump administration began to reconsider the move following threats by the Palestinian Authority's leadership that Ramallah would cut its ties with Washington, Maliki told the official Voice of Palestine radio station.

By closing the office in Washington, DC, the U.S. itself made any contacts with the Palestinian Authority impossible, Riyad al-Malki told AFP.

Speaking at a briefing, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the matter was under discussion and that, as far as she knew, the office was up and running for now.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that Palestinian officials violated an obscure U.S. law that prescribes closing PLO offices should they petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinian people, AP reported citing USA officials.

"Conditioning the renewal of the waiver on the Palestinians" sticking to "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel' is actually superfluous since negotiations are nonexistent, and the current US administration has yet to present any kind of peace initiative", PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.

The decision can be overturned if President Donald Trump determines that the Palestinians "have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

"We are actually wondering how can we still talk to the American side while our offices in Washington are closed", Khatib said.

The Trump administration is working on a US plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace in an effort led by the president's Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner, a senior White House advisor, and special negotiator Jason Greenblatt.

Palestinians threaten to cut ties with USA if Washington office closed