PA threatens to sever communication with Trump over closure of PLO’s DC office


( The Palestinian Authority (PA) threatened Saturday to sever communication with the Trump administration if the U.S. follows through with a threat to shutter the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, D.C.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and President Donald Trump meet at the White House on May 3, 2017. Credit: White House/Shealah Craighead.

The Palestinian threat came after the U.S. State Department on Saturday declined to renew the operating permission for the PLO’s office for the first time since the 1980s. PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called the move “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused the Trump administration of capitulating to Israeli pressure. 

“The United States is losing its position as a negotiator,” said Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas, Haaretz reported. 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informed the Palestinians that the decision came in response to statements made by Abbas at the United Nations General Assembly in September, when the PA leader called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israeli officials. American law specifies that the PLO mission in Washington should be shuttered if the Palestinians initiate legal action against Israel at the ICC. 

The State Department clarified that the office’s closure could be waived within 90 days if President Donald Trump “determines the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the Trump administration’s move is “a matter of U.S. law. We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.”

Posted on November 19, 2017 .