Palestine to cut U.S. communication if PLO office closed

By Daniel Uria  |  Nov. 19, 2017 at 12:09 PM
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Nov. 19 (UPI) -- The Palestine Liberation Organization said it will end communications with the United States if Donald Trump's administration closes its Washington D.C. office, a senior official said.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said the organization received a letter from the U.S. State Department stating it could not renew the office license due to Palestine's request for the International Criminal Court to open an investigation to prosecute Israel.

Erekat added if the State Department moves to officially close the office, the PLO will "button-hold all our communications" with the Trump administration.

"This is very unfortunate and unacceptable," Erekat said. "This is the pressure being exerted on this administration from the Netanyahu government; at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal, they take such steps which will undermine the whole peace process."

The State Department signs a waiver every six months allowing the PLO office to remain open and the certification for the current waiver ended this month.

Trump now has 90 days to determine whether Palestinians have "entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson determined Palestinians violated a provision in U.S. law prompting the closure of the PLO office if they choose to act against Israel in the ICC.

"The secretary concluded that the factual record, certain statements made by Palestinian leaders about the ICC, did not permit [Tillerson] to make the factual certification required by the statute," a State Department official told CNN.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a statement calling the U.S. decision to close the office "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," the statement said.

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