USA wants PLO's Washington office to stay open -State Dept

Trevor Jackson
November 22, 2017

WAFA quoted Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki as saying that Palestinian leaders would not give in to blackmail or pressure regarding the operation of the PLO office or negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

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

The US State Department told CNN that it was looking into the matter but had no further comment t that time.

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

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced it is freezing all ties with the U.S. as a result of the State Department's announcement on Friday that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer operate its Washington office. This is because of a US law that stipulates the Palestinian mission in Washington will be closed if the Palestinians try to take action against Israel at the International Criminal Court. That's what Abbas did in September.

The Palestinians, however, said Saturday, that the decision to shut down the PLO office "disqualifies" the USA as mediator between Israel and Palestine, threatening to sever ties with Washington if it decides to proceed with its plans.

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A State Department official on Saturday said under US law, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not renew a certification for the PLO office to operate "given certain statements made by the Palestinian leaders about the International Criminal Court".

Congress added a provision to the law in 2015 requiring the shuttering of the mission if the Palestinians seek to "influence a determination by the ICC to initiate a judicially authorized investigation, or to actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians".

US President Donald Trump now has a 90-day window to decide whether "the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel" - in which case he can waive the requirement to shutter the office.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) - which calls itself "the largest Arab-American grassroots organization in the US" - has meanwhile denounced Washington's decision to shut the PLO office.

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

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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