Palestinian threat to cut communications with US

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The surprise American move and Palestinian backlash came as US President Donald Trump seeks bargaining chips in his bid to broker an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

WAFA quoted Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki as saying that Palestinian leaders would not give in to blackmail or pressure regarding the operation of the PLO office or negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. For some reason, every president that comes into office thinks he has the magic formula to convince the Palestinians to formally recognize the state of Israel's right to exist and convince the Israelis that the Palestinians are honest.

The Palestinians are threatening to cut off all communication with the Trump administration if it goes through with plans to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization 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 US national interest.

But the law leaves the president a way out, so Tillerson's declaration doesn't necessarily mean the office will close.

The State Department official added that restrictions on the PLO in the United States, 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".

He said the decision "represents an unprecedented step in the history of the Palestinian-American relationship, and has unsafe consequences for the peace process and the American-Arab relations".

The officials weren't authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Saeb Erekat, a top PLO official and lead Palestinian negotiator, said the Palestinians have responded to Tillerson's determination by warning they will end all contact with the Trump administration if it closes the US office.

There are no current peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis, but the Trump administration has been seeking to restart the process. Led by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a senior aide, White House officials have been preparing a peace proposal they intend to put forward at an unspecified time. The threat of losing their office in the US capital could become another pressure point as the Trump administration seeks to persuade the Palestinians to come to the table.

Palestinians will freeze their ties with the U.S. if it follows through on a threat to close the Palestine Liberation Organisation's office in Washington, a senior PLO official warned on Saturday.

The Palestine Liberation Organization is the group that formally represents all Palestinians.

The United States allowed the PLO to open a mission in Washington in 1994, a move that required then-President Bill Clinton to waive a law that said the Palestinians couldn't have an office.

At issue is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call for the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis at the UN General Assembly in September, according to the American newswire, Associated Press (AP). And it's not clear whether the Palestinians must evacuate or simply close the office to the public.

Trump now has 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

I don't blame Trump for giving Israeli-Palestinian peace the old college try.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office issued a short statement calling the USA decision "a matter of United States law".

Riad Malki tells Palestine Radio that the Palestinians are waiting for further communication from the USA government.

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