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September 11, 2018

US to shut down PLO offices in Washington


September 11, 2018

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration on Monday announced that after careful review it has determined to shut down the office of the General Delegation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in Washington.

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017," a statement issued by the State Department said alleging that the PLO had not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.

"To the contrary, PLO leadership has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise," it said, , "as such, and reflecting Congressional concerns, the Administration has decided that the PLO office in Washington will close at this point."

This decision is also consistent with Administration and Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court, according to the announcement.

It said that the administration continues to believe that direct negotiations between the two parties were the only way forward; and that this action should not be exploited by those who seek to act as spoilers to distract from the imperative of reaching a peace agreement.

"We are not retreating from our efforts to achieve a lasting and comprehensive peace," the statement concluded. The action against the PLO is the latest in a series of measures taken by the Trump administration. Few weeks ago, the administration has announced to cut some 200 million dollars economic aid for Palestine as well.

The administration is also considering sanctions against the International Criminal Court, if it moves to investigate the U.S. or Israel. According to reports, U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton will also release a plan "to punish countries and individuals that try to prosecute American personnel, the US or its allies at the ICC."

Bolton will call for the protection of such allies 'by any means necessary' against the jurisdiction of the Netherlands-based court, which the US does not recognize, American media reported quoting an official that, "the measures could include travel bans on ICC judges and prosecutors and a freeze on their assets, as well as those of other entities trying to bring the US to the court."

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