Palestinians threaten to cut ties with USA if Washington office closed

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A State Department official, not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, told Newsweek in an email, "We continue to be in contact with Palestinian officials about the status of the PLO office in Washington as well as about our larger efforts to advance a lasting and comprehensive peace".

"We are actually wondering how can we still talk to the American side while our offices in Washington are closed", Khatib said.

Meanwhile, Reyad al-Malki, the PNA minister of foreign affairs told Xinhua that there are presidential instructions to suspend contacts with the American administration until it regret its decision of shutting down the PLO office in Washington.

The PLO, which the global community sees as representing all Palestinians, must have its permission to operate premises in the USA capital renewed by the State Department every six months.

The Trump administration announced Friday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' call on the International Criminal Court in September to investigate and prosecute Israeli officials for settlement activity and aggression against Palestinians had triggered a US law that could lead to the closure.

The Palestinian move comes as the Trump administration seeks to broker the long-out-of-reach Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

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PTWC warns that follow-up waves may occur at intervals of five minutes to an hour, and may be higher than before. According to reports, evacuation orders for the coastal regions have not been issued yet.

Earlier this week, the USA threatened to shut down the PLO office in Washington if the Palestinians insist to sue Israel in worldwide courts and if the Palestinians refuse to hold direct peace talks with Israel.

The Palestinian leadership has reportedly cut off communications with the Trump administration, CNN reported.

According to the law, President Donald Trump can waive the closure if the Palestinians are involved in "direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

In 2015, the US Congress introduced a provision that Palestinians may not try to wield influence over the ICC concerning investigations into Israelis.

Before the change to the law, the president could keep the PLO mission open merely by certifying that waiving the ban on Palestinian representation in the United States was in the U.S. national interest.

The decision can be overturned if President Donald Trump determines that the Palestinians "have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".