U.S.-Palestine spat over imminent closure of PLO's Washington office

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-22 15:55:08|Editor: Zhou Xin
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Relations between the United States and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have taken a turn for the worse with the PNA deciding to halt communications after a key Palestinian office in Washington faced closure.

The U.S. State Department said on Saturday that under U.S. law, State Secretary Rex Tillerson could not renew the certification of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington to continue operations.

It was due to "certain statements made by Palestinian leaders about the ICC (International Criminal Court)" at the United Nations, American State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at a daily press briefing Tuesday.

In September, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his speech at the United Nations had called on the ICC to open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials "for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people."

U.S. laws are liable to ban the PLO from running a Washington office if it calls for the prosecution of Israelis by the ICC.

The PNA responded by announcing Tuesday that it was suspending contacts with the United States over the decision to close the PLO office, calling it unacceptable.

However, Nauert tried to downplay the spat, saying at the press briefing that communications with the PNA were not frozen.

"In our view, communications are not frozen," she said. "We are in contact with the Palestinian officials about the status of that PLO office."

"I think we'd like for them to be able to keep it open," she added.

Calling the upcoming stage crucial, Nabil Abu Rdineh, a senior Palestinian official, said in a press release Tuesday that it was a " chance to correct Palestinian-American relations".