The PA Chairman’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh expressed “deep surprise” on Saturday at reports that the Trump administration is planning to close the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington should the Palestinian Authority not enter into serious peace talks with Israel.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Friday that the PA had violated a provision in a US law which says the PLO mission in DC would be closed down should the PA approach the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against PA Arabs. A State Department official noted that in September PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis, and so, by law, his organization must vacate the premises.
PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki told Palestine Radio that the PA leadership “will not accept any extortion or pressure” and that “the ball is now in the American court.”
Over in Ramallah, Abu Rudeineh stressed that the US threat to close the PLO office in Washington “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.”
According to the DOS official, President Trump now has 90 days to decide if the PA is in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” in which case they will get to keep their DC office.
Abu Rudeineh argued that “the Palestinian side has not received any ideas even though many months have passed and in spite of numerous meetings held with the US side, which disqualifies the US administration from playing the role of a mediator and removes itself from the job as sponsor of the political process to achieve the peace President Trump has promised to reach.”
According to AP, the Israeli Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.