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Palestinian mission in Washington given a month to pack up

Palestinian envoy to Washington says US has given his staffers a month to shut PLO office.

The Palestinian envoy to Washington says his staffers have been given a month to pack up after the Trump administration ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization mission closed.

Husam Zomlot told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the closure would not deter Palestinians from seeking a state with East Jerusalem as the capital.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that the mission was being shut because the PLO, in his words, had not taken steps towards negotiations with Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas halted ties with the Trump administration in December after the US recognised contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Zomlot was called home by Abbas in the spring as part of the crisis.

Zomlot says "we lost the US administration but we gained our national rights."

In a statement on Monday, the US State Department said the PLO office "has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel".

"We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017," the statement said.

It added the PLO leadership "has condemned a US peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the US government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise".

In response, the Palestinian Authority (PA) said the move would allow Israel to continue "their policies against the Palestinian people and land".

"It is a declaration of war on efforts to bring peace to our country and the region," PA spokesman Yousef al-Mahmoud was quoted as saying by Wafa news agency.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in a statement the decision was "yet another affirmation of the Trump administration's policy to collectively punish the Palestinian people, including by cutting financial support for humanitarian services including health and education".


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