U.S. wants PLO's Washington office to stay open -State Dept

Kristopher Drake
November 22, 2017

Al-Malki said Tuesday that the Trump administration is already "reconsidering" its decision concerning the PLO office in Washington following the statements made by the Palestinian Authority, as reported by the Israeli Haaretz daily.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced it is freezing all ties with the USA as a result of the State Department's announcement on Friday that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer operate its Washington office.

In 2015, the US Congress introduced a provision that Palestinians may not try to wield influence over the ICC concerning investigations into Israelis. Washington says that the Palestinian action violated its legal mandate and resulted in the mission closure.

A PLO spokesman confirmed that it had received instructions from PA head Mahmoud Abbas "regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans".

A US State Department official told the Israeli Haaretz daily that Washington intends neither to cut off relations with the PLO, nor stop working with the Palestinian Authority.

The State Department said it was looking into the issue, according to CNN.

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 USA can close the PLO's base in the U.S. capital.

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

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

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

President Donald Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to permanently close the PLO's office or waive the law if he determines the Palestinians "have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel". It raises questions about the veracity of the anticipated US Middle East peace plan.

"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.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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