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

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

Last week, the Trump administration notified the Palestinian Authority that unless it enters serious peace negotiations with Israel, the USA could shut down the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Washington, D.C. within the next few months.

Following the initial U.S. announcement about the closure of the PLO office in Washington, the Israeli prime minister's office issued a statement saying, "we respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the United States to advance peace and security in the region".

Nabil Abu Rdineh said in an official press statement sent to reporters that the PNA Presidency suspended its contacts with the U.S. Administration in protest to closing the offices of the PLO in Washington. It could also antagonize the Trump administration and result in cancellation of United States aide to the Palestinians. 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. If Trump determines they are, then the mission can reopen. The certification must be renewed every six months.

The "national security interest" excuse would no longer suffice.

The Palestinians have severed all contacts with officials from the Trump administration after it chose to close their official representation in Washington, dealing a blow to any potential resurrection of peace talks with Israel.

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

The US consulate in Jerusalem declined to comment on Tuesday, instead referring back to a statement on Saturday that said it was hopeful any "closure will be short-lived".

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.

Rights groups have condemned what they say is the Palestinians' right to seek an ICC decision on Israel's conduct during the seven-week 2014 Gaza War, in which its forces were accused of not taking adequate measures to protect civilian live.

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