Palestinians file war crimes claim over West Bank hamlet

National Security Advisor John Bolton visits Kyiv Ukraine on Aug. 24 2018

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

Trump has since pledged to withhold aid from the Palestinians until they return to the negotiating table.

The decision comes after the Trump administration about $25 million in aid originally allotted for Palestinians in East Jerusalem hospitals.

Deputy Minister Michael Oren, who served as Israel's ambassador in Washington, also praised the move.

The decision to close the PLO office "is part of the open war waged by the USA administration and its Zionist team against our Palestinian people, their cause and just and legitimate rights", it said.

But at a press conference in Ramallah, Saeb Erekat doubled down by saying the Palestinians have asked the ICC to investigate Israel's planned demolition of the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar in the West Bank.

The Trump administration is reportedly set to announce the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization's office in Washington, D.C., in a bid to pressure the Palestinian leadership to participate in Middle East peace efforts. Netanyahu has broadly welcomed Trump's support.

Ms. Nauert said the decision was also in response to Palestinian officials attempt to prompt an International Criminal Court investigation into the USA and Israel.

Although the USA does not recognize Palestinian statehood, the PLO has maintained in Washington a general delegation office that facilitates Palestinian officials' interactions with the US government.

"The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel", according to a draft of Bolton's remarks reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

"The decision is worrying and it is another sign that the USA is not an impartial party in the Middle East peace process", Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said.

The Trump administration ordered the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington on Monday, citing the refusal of Palestinian leaders to enter into peace talks with Israel.

"This misguided and harmful policy will only further isolate the United States from its closest allies and give solace to war criminals and authoritarian regimes seeking to evade global accountability", the ACLU said. Jordan, a US ally, said the decision would only fuel radicalism and harm prospects for Middle East peace.

She said that the Palestinian leadership would discuss possible responses after Abbas attends the UN General Assembly meeting in NY later this month. Three Gulf States have announced a total of $150 million in funding for UNRWA this year, and other countries have made new or increased contributions as the agency scrambles to continue operating. "I told them if you are anxious about courts, you should stop aiding and abetting crimes". "Please also consider opportunities for further donations at this critical time".

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