Palestinians 'freeze' meetings with United States over office row

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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.

A spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) confirmed that it had received instructions from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas "regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans".

The US State Department told CNN that it was looking into the matter but had no further comment t that time. They further explained that the United States should allow the PLO office to continue its work in Washington and also remove the PLO from its list of terrorist organizations in order for contact to be resumed.

President Mahmoud Abbas ordered all contacts with Washington on hold until Palestinian demands are met, sources within the PA government told RT.

The Palestinians have severed all contacts with officials from the Trump administration after it made a decision to close their official representation in Washington, dealing a blow to any potential resurrection of peace talks with Israel.

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The PLO, which the worldwide community sees as representing all Palestinians, must have its permission to operate premises in the USA capital renewed by the State Department every six months.

The United States wants the Palestine Liberation Organization to keep its Washington office open and is in talks with Palestinian officials about the issue despite a USA decision that could trigger its closure, the State Department said on Tuesday.

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

"The U.S. threat to close the PLO's mission in Washington as punishment for seeking justice at the ICC makes any U.S. commitment to justice for serious crimes seem at best selective", said Omar Shakir, the rights group's researcher on the conflict. The Palestinian foreign minister also said the United States must re-examine all its laws passed since 1987, and rethink its definition of the PLO as a terrorist organization.

"We are not cutting off relations with the PLO", that statement said.