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US decision to shut down PLO office in Washington is ‘worrying’: Turkish FM

The US shutting down the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington is “worrying,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

In a written statement ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the decision “is another display of the US losing impartiality on the Middle East peace process.”

“This decision will serve nothing but to encourage efforts to halt a two-state solution process,” Aksoy said, adding that Turkey would continue to support international efforts to find a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian cause.

The US on Monday announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Washington office as the Trump administration prepares to roll out its Middle East peace plan.

The State Department announced the decision, saying that “the PLO office in Washington will close at this point.” Its office in Washington — while not recognized as an embassy, since there is no recognition of a Palestinian state — is one of the few Palestinian vehicles for communication with the levers of US power.

The department said “the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel” and pointed to Palestinian calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel as a reason for its decision.

“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,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The decision to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization office is the latest effort to ramp up pressure on Ramallah. The US has already halted all funding to the UN’s Palestine refugee agency and cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians.

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