Palestinians freeze U.S. contacts over threat to shutter PLO office in DC


"What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office?"

The Palestinians have frozen all contacts with the United States after it chose to close their representative office in Washington, officials said on Tuesday.

"The U.S. threat to close the PLO's mission in Washington as punishment for seeking justice at the ICC makes any U.S. commitment to justice for serious crimes seem at best selective", said Omar Shakir, the rights group's researcher on the conflict.

"Communications with the consulate in Jerusalem and meetings between American and Palestinian officials in Palestine are now frozen because of the decision not to renew the PLO office in Washington's certification", Majdi al-Khalidi, Abbas's diplomatic affairs adviser told The Post.

The Trump administration announced Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call on the International Criminal Court in September to investigate and prosecute Israeli officials for settlement activity and aggression against Palestinians had triggered a USA law that could lead to the closure.

The U.S. State Department on Saturday refused to renew operating permission for the PLO office in Washington for the first time since the 1980s, a Palestinian official said. "The Trump administration should stop pressuring Palestine to abandon support for a credible, long overdue path to justice".

In this handout image provided by the Palestinian Press Office, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) meets with Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump in Ramallah, West Bank, on June 21.

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

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

Congress added a provision to the law in 2015 requiring the shuttering of the mission if the Palestinians seek to "influence a determination by the ICC to initiate a judicially authorized investigation, or to actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians".

There is a 90-day period for Trump to consider whether the Palestinians are engaged in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel" before any decision is taken.

"We are not cutting off relations with the PLO", that statement said.