PNA suspends contacts with U.S. over closure of PLO Washington office


The Palestinian Authority has threatened to suspend communications with the United States if moves ahead with closing the Palestine Liberation Organisation's office in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. State Department on Saturday refused to renew operating permission for the PLO office in Washington for the first time since the 1980s, a Palestinian official said.

The Palestinians are reportedly following through with their threat to sever ties with the U.S. after Washington orders closure of the PLO mission in the American capital.

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The Trump administration is reconsidering its position on closing the Palestinian mission in Washington, said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Tuesday morning.

Now the threat of losing their office in the US capital could potentially be another pressure point to persuade the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. The State Department said that "certain statements made by Palestinian leaders" about the International Criminal Court's charges against Israeli nationals are the reason behind the non-renewal.

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. However, Trump has said he'd like to broker a peace agreement between the two countries, saying it would be the "ultimate deal". Ahmad said the Palestinians had not been consulted so far.

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US President Donald Trump now has a 90-day window to decide whether "the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel", according to 2015 law- in which case he can waive the requirement to shutter the office. One of the USA officials said in an email that "this measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the backing off those efforts".

Israel opposes any Palestinian membership in United Nations-related organizations until a peace deal has been reached. The provision doesn't explicitly define what would constitute direct or meaningful negotiations.

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