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Palestinian leaders plan to fight US punitive measures

Palestinian leadership weighs retaliatory moves against US decision to close down PLO office in Washington, DC.

Palestinians leaders are weighing retaliatory measures against the United States's decision to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) diplomatic office in Washington, DC, including ending security cooperation.

"It's among possible steps we are thinking about," Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee, told reporters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday.

"We are thinking of many things that can be done."

Trump's administration announced on Monday it will close the PLO office over the Palestinian Authority's refusal to enter into US-brokered negotiations with Israel.

The move is the latest in a series of US measures against the Palestinian leadership, which comes amid deteriorating ties between the two sides in the wake of US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last year.

Palestinian leaders, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, said the US had taken itself "off the table" as a peace mediator.

Washington has given the Palestinian Authority's security forces some $61m in aid this year, according to the US embassy in Israel.

US-based news site Axios reported a Palestinian security and intelligence delegation was in Washington, DC, earlier this month for talks with the CIA.

'Racist Israeli government'

In recent weeks Trump has slashed more than $500m in aid for Palestinians to push them to the negotiating table. He is expected to unveil details of what he has long referred to as the "deal of the century" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to news reports, the deal prohibits the return of more than five million Palestinian refugees and removes the status of Jerusalem from negotiations.

Palestinian leaders say Trump's White House is blatantly biased in favour of Israel and is seeking to blackmail them into accepting its terms.

"This American administration has adopted wholesale all the positions of the most extreme, right-wing, hardline, racist Israeli government in the history of Israel," Ashrawi said.

She said the Palestinian leadership would discuss possible responses after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City scheduled later this month.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday welcomed the US decision to shut the Palestinian mission.

"The US made the correct decision when it decided to close the PLO offices in Washington," he told members of his cabinet.

"The [Palestinians'] refusal to enter into negotiations with Israel and the unbridled attacks against Israel will not only not advance peace but will certainly not make things better for the Palestinians."


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