PNA suspends contacts with U.S. over closure of PLO Washington office

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The Palestinians have frozen ties with the US Consulate in Jerusalem and American officials visiting the West Bank in response to the State Department's decision not to renew the certification of the PLO's representative office in Washington, DC, a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Following the initial USA 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 USA to advance peace and security in the region".

The State Department has refused to renew permission for the PLO to operate its office in Washington, D.C., for the first time since in about three decades. It could also antagonize the Trump administration and result in cancellation of U.S. aide to the Palestinians.

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 US law that could lead to the closure. If Trump determines they are, then the mission can reopen.

Maliki added that the Trump administration must reexamine all the laws passed by Congress since 1987 defining the Palestine Liberation Organization as a terrorist organization. Still, a waiver would have to be signed every six months.

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The decision means that no Palestinian official will be able to meet with President Donald Trump, his key Middle East adviser Jason Greenblatt, or his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, who has been tasked with trying to find a solution to the conflict, while the temporary freeze is in place.

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

On Saturday, Palestinians threatened to suspend all communication with the United States if the Trump administration follows through with plans to close their diplomatic office in Washington.

Before the change to the law, the president could keep the PLO mission open merely by certifying that waiving the ban on Palestinian representation in the United States was in the U.S. national interest.

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