Palestinians 'freeze' meetings with U.S. over office row

US President Donald Trump on 6 November 2017

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

"What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office?"

A State Department official, not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, told Newsweek in an email, "We continue to be in contact with Palestinian officials about the status of the PLO office in Washington as well as about our larger efforts to advance a lasting and comprehensive peace".

Over the weekend the US State Department informed Malki that the PLO office in DC would be closed because the Palestinians had violated a 2015 US Congressional mandate.

"Communications with the consulate in Jerusalem and meetings between American and Palestinian officials in Palestine are now frozen because of the decision not to renew the PLO office in Washington's certification", Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas's diplomatic affairs adviser told The Post.

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 US believes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ran afoul of the law in September when he called on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israel for alleged war crimes against the Palestinians.

Offices for the Palestine Liberation Organization are seen in Washington, D.C., on November 21, 2017.

After the Palestinians joined the ICC in 2015, Congress passed a similar provision into the December 2015 foreign ops bill.

Trump's senior envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, have held multiple meetings with Palestinian Authority leaders in the past year, but amid the latest events, any progress and will now be in jeopardy.

The Palestinian move comes as the Trump administration seeks to broker the long-out-of-reach Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

There is a 90-day period for Trump to consider whether the Palestinians are engaged in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel" before any decision is taken.

"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 USA administration has yet to present any kind of peace initiative", PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement.



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