The Palestinians are reportedly following through with their threat to sever ties with the US after Washington orders closure of the PLO mission in the American capital.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced it is freezing all ties with the US as a result of the State Department’s announcement on Friday that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer operate its Washington office. The US decision followed the Palestinian move to petition the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians. Washington says that the Palestinian action violated its legal mandate and resulted in the mission closure.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson determined that the Palestinians crossed that line in September, when Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas called on the court to investigate and prosecute Israelis, according to State Department officials. They weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Under the law, Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, then the mission can reopen.
Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told AFP on Tuesday that “by closing the office they (The US) are freezing all meetings and we are making that official.”
A PLO spokesman confirmed that it had received instructions from PA head Mahmoud Abbas “regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans.”
Cutting off ties carries great risks for the Palestinians. It raises questions about the veracity of the anticipated US Middle East peace plan. It could also antagonize the Trump administration and result in cancellation of US aide to the Palestinians.
Following the initial US 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 US to advance peace and security in the region.”