Palestinians threaten to cut ties with United States if Washington office closed

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

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has announced it is freezing all ties with the U.S. as a result of the State Department's announcement on Friday that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) can no longer operate its Washington office.

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".

The PLO requires permission to operate offices in DC which has to berenewed by the State Department every six months, however last week, the State Department refused to renew the permit. "The Trump administration should stop pressuring Palestine to abandon support for a credible, long overdue path to justice".

U.S. officials cited comments by Abbas about possibly taking Israel to the International Criminal Court.

In 1987, Congress outlawed any PLO presence on United States soil due to the group's terror activities at the time.

In 1997, Congress made it easier for the president to waive sanctions against the PLO: The president would only have to say the waiver was in the US's national security interest without providing addition explanation.

That was the case until 2011, when the Palestinians joined UNESCO and declared they wanted full membership status in the UN.

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According to the law, President Donald Trump can waive the closure if the Palestinians are involved in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

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

The Palestinian leadership has reportedly cut off communications with the Trump administration, CNN reported.

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".

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in comments published by the Palestinian WAFA news agency that the decision "is unprecedented in the history of US-Palestinian relations, which could have serious consequences on the peace process and US-Arab relations, as well as serves as a blow to peace-making efforts and a reward to Israel, which is working to obstruct the US efforts by persisting with its settlement policy and its refusal to accept the principle of the two-state solution".

The declaration does not automatically mean the mission will close.

Under the law, Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

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