Roundup: PLO slams U.S. decision to shut down its Washington office

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-10 23:51:30|Editor: yan
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RAMALLAH, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat blasted on Monday the U.S. decision to close the PLO's office in Washington, vowing to "take necessary measures."

The PLO was notified by a U.S. official that the U.S. administration has decided to close the Palestinian mission to the United States, Erekat said in a press statement.

"This is yet another affirmation of the Trump administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education," the statement added.

Erekat described the move as a "dangerous escalation" which "shows that the U.S. is willing to disband the international system in order to protect Israeli crimes and attacks against the land and people of Palestine."

"We will take necessary measures to protect the rights of our citizens living in the U.S. to access their consular services," he said, stressing the Palestinian side will "continue to call upon the International Criminal Court to open its immediate investigation into Israeli crimes."

Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO Executive Committee, said in a press statement that the U.S. move was "irresponsible" and "a form of crude and vicious blackmail."

"It is ironic that the U.S. is punishing the PLO, the national representative of the Palestinian people and the highest political body that made the commitment to reaching a political and legal settlement of the Palestinian question and that has engaged in negotiations with successive U.S. administrations for decades," Ashrawi said.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Monday that the Trump administration is expected to close the PLO official in Washington, a move seen as increasing the already mounting tension between the United States and Palestine.

The U.S. media outlet quoted the planned remarks of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton as saying that "the Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel."

Bolton was expected to say that the United States will always stand with Israel, and to "threaten to impose sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it moves ahead with investigations of the U.S. and Israel," the U.S. media reported.

The Palestinians have boycotted Washington since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved its embassy to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians referred to the U.S. "Deal of the Century," put forward by Trump to resolve the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as being far from their expectations and aspirations for a lasting and just peace settlement.