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PA: Relations with US Entered a Critical Period

PA: Relations with US Entered a Critical Period

Wednesday, 22 November, 2017 - 10:30
The Palestine Liberation Organization office is seen in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Palestinian Authority stated that the relations with the United States is going through a critical stage after US authorities decided to close the Representative Office of Palestine in Washington. Meanwhile, Palestinian diplomatic sources confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that several Arab countries are pressuring the Washington to reopen the office.

Earlier, several Arab, international, and local media outlets reported spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh saying that communications with Washington had stopped. However, Palestinian News and Info Agency (Wafa) reported the spokesman's statement which did not refer to the suspension of communications, which created several suspicions and doubts regarding the Palestinian position.

Abu Rudeineh stated on Tuesday that the Palestinian decision is going to face the challenges with firm and national positions," adding that the coming period "is critical and an opportunity to correct Palestinian-US relations."

The spokesperson confirmed that the recent Palestinian moves came in response to some unacceptable US measures.

Abu Rudeineh called on Hamas to pick up on these courageous positions to return to the legitimate fold, preventing anyone from manipulating with the Palestinian arena.

Following the controversy, informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that a Palestinian decision has been made to suspend any meetings with US officials concerning the peace process as long as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office is closed.

The sources said that communications are not suspended, but reiterated that this is a move to pressure Washington.

Palestinian foreign ministry was informed by the US State Department that the representative office in Washington was closed, adding that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson couldn't renew the certification for the office to operate, given that there weren't enough reasons for that.

US media reported that Tillerson stated that: "given certain statements made by the Palestinian leaders about the International Criminal Court", Palestinian officials violated a US law.

Under the law, Palestine cannot operate a Washington office if it urges the ICC to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, PA President Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.

This is the first time in four decades that US authorities had not renewed PLO's certification and the decision is usually signed by the Secretary of State and renewed every six months.

Restrictions on PLO in the US, including the operation of its Washington office, could be waived after 90 days if US President Donald Trump “determines the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

PLO later informed US authorities that the decision will also lead to its withdrawal from the peace process.

Palestinian government called upon US authorities to retract its decision which contradicts the vow Trump has made during his presidential campaign to exert all the efforts in order to ensure a historic deal that ends the Palestinian-Israeli struggle.

The government stated that this decision comes in line with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's false claims that the PA encourages terrorism and violence, at a time he was granted the green light to expand the settlements in a blatant violation to UN Resolution 2334.

PA added that it is prepared to bring the peace process back on track, including the issues that were agreed upon during Abbas' meeting with US President.

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