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Palestinians Vow to Suspend Talks if US Closes PLO Mission

Palestinians Vow to Suspend Talks if US Closes PLO MissionPalestinians Vow to Suspend Talks if US Closes PLO Mission

The Palestinians threatened on Saturday to suspend all communication with the United States if the Trump administration follows through with plans to close their diplomatic office in Washington. The potential rupture in relations threatens to undermine President Donald Trump’s bid for Mideast peace —a mission he has handed his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the US decision was “very unfortunate and unacceptable,” and accused Washington of bowing to pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government “at a time when we are trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal,” AP reported.

In a video statement on social media, Erekat said: “We will put on hold all our communications with this American administration.”

There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration. Netanyahu’s office said the closure was “a matter of US law.”

US officials had insisted before Erekat’s statement that the move wasn’t aimed at increasing leverage over the Palestinians, but merely the unavoidable consequence of US law.

Cutting off ties would carry great risks for the Palestinians. It could antagonize an administration they already suspect is biased toward Israel and put millions of dollars of critical US aid in jeopardy.

However, unresponsive Palestinians would deal an embarrassing blow to the Trump administration ahead of an expected peace initiative and potentially prevent it from getting off the ground. Their stance could also complicate US efforts to promote a region wide approach by bringing together Israel with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab allies in a joint effort against Iran. Arab countries might be reluctant to get too close to Israel in the absence of serious progress on the Palestinian issue.

 

 

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