The Palestinian Authority harshly responded to this past Friday’s announcement by the White House that it is considering closing the US offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in light of its attempts to take Israel to court at the International Criminal Court.

The Trump Administration takes on the PLO

The Trump Administration takes on the PLO Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

Yesterday (Friday), the Associated Press news agency reported that the Trump administration has informed the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that it is considering closing its offices in Washington, DC, in light of their attempt to put Israel and its citizens on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Tonight, the Palestinian Authority (PA) responded angrily and warned of “serious implications.” In Israel, on the other hand, the issue has been defined as “sensitive and significant.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office asked cabinet members to refrain from publicly commenting on the White House’s announcement. “This involves an American law. We appreciate the decision and look forward to continuing our work with the United States to promote peace and security in the region,” stated the Prime Minister’s Office.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaina said that the US’ planned move was an unprecedented step in the history of the US-Palestinian relationship. “This will have serious implications for the peace process and US-Arab relations,” added Abu Rudaina. Earlier, the PA’s foreign ministry said that “the Palestinian people will not surrender to blackmail.”

Saeb Erekat, a senior PA diplomat, threatened this evening to sever communication between the PA and the Trump administration if the move is carried out. Erekat called the decision “unwise and unacceptable,” accusing the Trump administration of giving in to pressure from Netanyahu. “The Palestinians are trying to work together to achieve the ultimate agreement,” he said.

PA warns of

PA warns of “serious implications” Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

According to a US law, the PLO must close its office if it tries to convince the ICC to prosecute Israel for alleged crimes against Palestinians. According to an anonymous US State Department official, the Palestinian leadership has crossed this line.

Now, the ball is in the court of US President Donald Trump, who has the ability to prevent the closure of the PLO offices. According to the law, Trump has 90 days to determine whether the Palestinians are conducting “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If he determines that this condition is met, the PLO may keep its Washington office open.

“This measure should in no way be seen as a signal that the US is backing off those efforts,” the US official wrote in an email, adding that he is not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.