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szdaily -> World -> 
United States to close PLO office in Washington
    2018-09-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

THE Trump administration announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington on Monday and threatened sanctions against the International Criminal Court if it pursues investigations against the United States, Israel, or other allies.

Despite Palestinian objection, the U.S. State Department unveiled the decision to close the Palestinian diplomatic mission in a statement released Monday noon, citing the lack of “steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

The decision was also linked with U.S. concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court, according to the statement.

Shortly after the State Department announcement, John Bolton, the U.S. National Security Adviser, followed up in his speech at a conservative think tank in Washington.

“The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” he said.

Bolton also threatened to impose sanctions against judges and prosecutors of the ICC if it pursues investigation against the United States, Israel or other U.S. allies.

In his speech, which has been earmarked as his first major public address after taking the post, Bolton also reaffirmed the U.S. full support for Israel, a stance which has been widely seen as seriously undermining Washington’s credibility as a mediator for the stalled Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

Senior Palestinian officials have strongly condemned the U.S. latest move, calling it “reckless” and “bullying.”

“We don’t think this is just about bullying ... we believe this is about the implementing of Israel’s grocery list,” said Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian representative to Washington, in an interview.

Zomlot also described ties between the United States and the Palestinians as at a “historical low.”

U.S. media reported Saturday that the Trump administration “will be redirecting approximately US$25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network. Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere.” In response, the Palestinian side denounced the move as “an act of political blackmail.”  (Xinhua)

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