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US Reverses Decision to Close Washington PLO Office


FILE- The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Nov. 18, 2017.The State Department said Friday that the office can stay open, with restrictions.

The U.S. has reversed its decision that would have closed the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

The U.S. said last week the PLO had to close its office because the organization had violated a little-known provision in U.S. law prohibiting a PLO Washington office if the organization asked the International Criminal Court to investigate Israelis or prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the international court earlier this year to "open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people."

Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian legislator, told the Associated Press that the U.S. made a "correct" decision in reversing its original choice. He said the first decision should not have been made because "the United States cannot play the role of a mediator and at the same time take the side of the Israelis against the Palestinians ...We cannot have peace in this region if the United States government continues to be biased to the Israeli positions."

A State Department spokesman says the U.S. has "advised the PLO Office to limit its activities to those related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians."

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