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US backtracks on decision to shutter PLO's DC office

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas met in Washington last month to discuss the moribund Middle East peace process
NICHOLAS KAMM (AFP)
Bureau should 'limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting peace with Israel'

The administration of US President Donald Trump on Friday backtracked on its vow to close the Washington DC office of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), saying it could remain open "within limitations."

A State Department official said the bureau is advised to "limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians."

Spokesman Edgar Vasquez said even those restrictions will be lifted after 90 days if the parties would engage in serious peace talks.

“We therefore are optimistic that at the end of this 90-day period, the political process may be sufficiently advanced that the president will be in a position to allow the PLO office to resume full operations,” Vasquez said.

Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is reportedly laboring on a comprehensive peace roadmap he hopes to unveil before both sides in the coming months.

Last week the Associated Press reported on Friday that the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had refused to re-certify the PLO's compliance with a number of Congressional conditions that enable it to maintain its Washington office, specifically Abbas' speech to the United Nations in September, in which he urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel and prosecute actions by Israelis.

The State Department said that such statements go against a 2015 law which authorizes shuttering the Palestinian mission in Washington if the Palestinians try to take action against Israel at the ICC.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, an Abbas spokesman and top aide, blasted the move, which he said "leaves [the impression that] the United States is losing its position as a negotiator" and that Washington is "withdrawing from its duties as a sponsor of the diplomatic peace process."

The top Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told Al Jazeera that the PA "would put on hold all our communications with this American administration" if the office is closed and reject its role as a mediator in the peace process.

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After all this, Hamas may take power in J & S!!! With the help of Iran.

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