GAZA (Sputnik) — Secretary General of the Executive Committee of PLO and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Saturday that Palestine may halt all contacts with the US administration if the PLO office in Washington, D.C., is shut down.
On Friday, the US State Department said that they could not certify that the PLO was complying with conditions imposed by US Congress, in particular, because of the Palestinians' statements indicating they wanted to try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis. The absence of a certification leads to the closure of the PLO office.
"We responded to them [US authorities] with an official letter that in case you officially close the PLO office in Washington, D.C., we will put on hold all our communications with this American administration," Erekat said in a video statement, uploaded to the PLO Twitter account.
Erekat called the US move "unfortunate" and influenced by Israel, while Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh was quoted by WAFA news agency as saying that this step could "have serious consequences on the peace process and US-Arab relations."
The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed its respect for the decision made by the United States and expressed readiness to continue working with Washington on achieving peace in the Middle East.
Erekat earlier said that the lack of US support for the principle known as the two-state solution formula or adequate reaction to Israel's settlements policy encourages the Jewish state to implement an "apartheid" policy toward Palestinians.
Apartheid was a system of racial segregation and discrimination used by South African authorities between 1948 and 1991. The term is now used to describe similar policies in other countries. In 1973, the United Nations adopted the Apartheid Convention, which qualifies apartheid as a crime against humanity. However, dozens of nations have yet to ratify the document.
In March this year, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) accused Israel of applying "apartheid regime" policies regarding the Palestinians.