PA freezes all meetings with US

PA suspends all meetings with US officials after US decides to close PLO office in Washington DC.

AFP and Arutz Sheva staff ,

Abbas and Trump
Abbas and Trump

Palestinian Authority officials announced Tuesday they had suspended meetings with the US following a quarrel with President Donald Trump's administration over the future of their representative office in Washington.

The announcement came on the same day the leading Palestinian Arab political factions began talks in Cairo aimed at pushing ahead with reconciliation efforts.

It was not immediately clear if the row with Washington would impact on the reconciliation talks and the suspension of meetings was not confirmed by the Americans.

PA foreign minister Riyad al-Malki and other officials said they had suspended all meetings, but speaking during a visit to Spain, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he remained committed to working with Trump and America to achieve a lasting peace deal.

Trump has been seeking to build confidence between the sides ahead of a fresh attempt at peace talks between Israel and the PA.

His envoys, including senior adviser Jared Kushner and peace negotiators Jason Greenblatt, have held dozens of meetings with PA leaders in the past year, but these could now be in jeopardy.

Vice President Mike Pence is also due to visit Israel next month.

Malki said that by deciding to close the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington, the Americans had effectively cut off ties.

"What is the use of holding any meetings with them when they close our office?" he told AFP.

"In practice by closing the office they are freezing all meetings and we are making that official."

The PLO, which the international community sees as representing all Palestinian Arabs, must have its permission to operate premises in the US capital renewed by the State Department every six months.

But last week the department refused to renew the permit.

US officials cited comments by Abbas about possibly taking Israel to the International Criminal Court as justification.

A PLO spokesman confirmed they had received instructions from Abbas regarding closing down all communication lines with the Americans".

The row comes as Trump seeks bargaining chips in his bid to broker an elusive Arab- Israeli peace deal.

The US president has a 90-day window to avert the closure of the office if he deems progress has been made.