State Department building
State Department building Thinkstock

A State Department official on Tuesday played down the Department website’s removal of the Palestinian Authority (PA) from its list of countries and areas, a move that angered Palestinian Arab officials.

"The website is being updated. There has been no change to our policy," she said, according to AFP.

The official did not say if the website, which recently underwent a redesign, would again include a separate entry for Palestinian territories.

Until recently, “Palestinians” appeared on the site under the name “Palestinian Authority” and before that the “Palestinian Territories”.

The PA cabinet, after a meeting chaired Monday by its head Mohammad Shtayyeh, said the move "confirms the American bias towards Israel."

The cabinet said that the shift "cannot override the Palestinian rights, which the world countries have unanimously recognized," as quoted by the official PA news agency WAFA.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said on Sunday that the US decision represents "unprecedented deterioration in the American foreign policy."

"This step again shows the US government is not only biased toward the Israeli occupation, but is fully aligned with the plans of the extremist Israeli right-wing," Abu Rudeineh charged.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its veteran negotiator, said the removal "is not about US national interests. This is about advancing the agenda of the council of Israeli Settlers."

"Deciding not to see the truth does not mean canceling its existence," he tweeted.

The move comes amid ongoing tensions between the PA and the Trump administration.

The PA has boycotted the US since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017 and has rejected the Administration’s peace plan on the grounds that it is biased in Israel’s favor.

A recent report in Israel indicated that PA officials are re-thinking their boycott of the US administration. Abbas later made clear that relations with the current US administration will not resume unless Trump "recognizes the source of authority for the peace process and UN resolutions and accepts the two-state solution."

The US has also cut its aid to the PA over the past few years and, last September, announced it would close the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) mission in Washington, DC.

Join our official WhatsApp group