The Latest: Palestinian threat to cut communications with US

November 19, 2017 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the status of the Palestinians’ office in Washington (all times local):

1:05 p.m.

The Palestinians are threatening to cut off all communication with the Trump administration if it goes through with plans to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat (sah-EEB’ EHR’-ih-kaht) says the U.S. administration’s decision is — in his words — “very unfortunate and unacceptable.”

He’s accusing the U.S. of bowing to pressure from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH’-hoo), just as he says the Palestinians are “trying to cooperate to achieve the ultimate deal.”

Erekat says the Palestinians have conveyed their intention to cut off talks if the office is closed in a letter to the Trump administration. The threat comes as the U.S. is trying to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Netanyahu’s office says the closure is a “matter of U.S. law.”



12:30 p.m.

The State Department says the Palestine Liberation Organization’s office in Washington will close.

Officials say the Palestinians have ran afoul of a U.S. law by calling for Israelis to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

Only a day earlier, department officials had said the office could stay open if President Donald Trump determined that the Palestinians were in serious peace negotiations with Israel.

But now, those same officials are saying the office must close regardless — at least for some time. It could reopen in the future, if the Palestinians are in talks with Israelis

It’s unclear when the office will close. And it’s not clear whether the Palestinians must evacuate or simply close the office to the public.

The officials weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the situation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

—Associated Press writer Josh Lederman.


5:10 a.m.

The Palestinian foreign minister says the Palestinians won’t give in to what he calls “extortion” after a U.S. threat to close their diplomatic mission in Washington.

Riad Malki tells Palestine Radio that the Palestinians are waiting for further communication from the U.S. government. He says “the ball is now in the American court.”

U.S. officials — citing an American law — say the Trump administration has put the Palestinians on notice that it’ll close their office in Washington unless they’ve entered serious peace talks with Israel. President Donald Trump has 90 days to make a decision.

Malki says the U.S. move may be aimed at putting pressure on the Palestinians. But he says “the Palestinian leadership will not accept any extortion or pressure.”