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

Trump's About to Repeat the Mistake of Bush and Obama in the Israeli-Arab Conflict

Trump's About to Repeat the Mistake of Bush and Obama in the Israeli-Arab Conflict

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".

In 2015, the US Congress introduced a provision that Palestinians may not try to wield influence over the ICC concerning investigations into Israelis.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the possible closure a "very unfortunate and unacceptable" decision, and said that Washington was bowing to pressure from the Israeli government "at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal". The move follows the USA decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in America's capital.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that Palestinian officials violated an obscure U.S. law that prescribes closing PLO offices should they petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinian people, AP reported citing USA officials.

A State Department official on Saturday said under USA 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".

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

"The upcoming stage is crucial and a chance to correct the Palestinian-American relations", he said, adding the Palestinian decision "was made in response to the unaccepted American measures". "Our meetings begin from our office, and the arrangements are there", Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP news agency Tuesday. "The Trump administration should stop pressuring Palestine to abandon support for a credible, long overdue path to justice".

Under the law, Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel". It raises questions about the veracity of the anticipated US Middle East peace plan.

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

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