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US threatens to shut its embassy if PA fails to enter talks with Israel

PA said it would not give in to 'extortion' over its diplomatic mission in Washington and the peace process (AFP)

The United States has threatened to shut down Palestine's diplomatic mission to Washington if the Palestinian Authority fails to enter peace negotiations with Israel.

The threat comes off the back of calls by Tel Aviv in September to shut down the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO) general delegation to the US.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued the warning after PA President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to go to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel and take actions against Israelis, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Tillerson said that statements by Abbas to take action against Israel at the ICC went against US law.

The report by AP outlined however that this was not an immediate threat, and that the Americans were still engaging with the PA in the hope of renewing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The reports were confirmed by a State Department Official who told Haaretz on Friday that it was not "cutting off relations with the PLO, nor do we intend to stop working with the Palestinian Authority".

The US State Official added: "In December 2015, Congress introduced a new condition concerning certain Palestinian actions related to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The most recent certification period ended in November. We were unable to make a new certification, and have notified the PLO accordingly."

On Israel's demand to shut down the PLO General Delegation to the United States#PalestineInUSA@hzomlotpic.twitter.com/O4D7rcngCY

— Palestine in the US (@PalestineUSA) September 30, 2017

On Saturday, the PA's Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that the threats from Washington were an attempt to exert political pressure and attempt to create uncertainty among the Palestinian leadership.

Maliki added that the Palestinian Authority would not give in to "extortion" concerning its diplomatic mission in Washington or the peace process with Israel.

He said instead that a decision on the mission should be made in consultation between the State Department and the White House.

The PLO has operated in Washington DC since 1993. Like other US administrations, Donald Trump's office has kept in close contact with ambassador Hosam Zomlot, who heads the Washington mission and a close adviser to Abbas.

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