THE PLO office in Washington, DC..
(photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)
Israel had no immediate response Saturday night to a US State Department decision to allow the PLO to keep its office in Washington DC open, despite threatening last week to close it.
According to a report Friday in The Hill, a State Department spokesperson said the office will be allowed to remain open with certain limitations, including that the PLO’s activities there be “related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Given the lapse last week of a waiver of statutory restrictions on PLO activity in the United States, we have advised the PLO Office to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.
The spokesperson, the report continued, said the Trump administration could lift the restrictions after 90 days if peace talks have begun between the Palestinians and the US, adding that the State Department is “optimistic” that, by that time, “the political process may be sufficiently advanced that the president will be in a position to allow the PLO office to resume full operations.”
Washington’s announced intention to shutter the office had led the Palestinian Authority to retaliate by announcing last week it was freezing ties with the US consulate in Jerusalem and with American officials visiting the West Bank.
The State Department announced last weekend that, under legislation passed by Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not renew the certification that expired this month for the PLO office, which serves as the Palestinian’s unofficial embassy in Washington.
According to US law, the PLO cannot operate a Washington office if it urges the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians.
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In an address to the UN General Assembly in September, Abbas appeared to violate this law when he called on the ICC
“to open an investigation and prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggression against our people.”
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