Turkey concerned over US shutdown of PLO office

By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

ANKARA (AA) – U.S. shutting down Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) diplomatic mission in Washington is "worrying", Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

In a written statement, ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said the decision "is another display of U.S. losing impartiality on 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 will continue to support international efforts that will find a just and permanent solution to the Palestinian cause.

The U.S. on Monday announced the closure of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Washington diplomatic mission as the Trump administration prepares to roll out its Middle East peace plan.

The State Department announced the decision, saying "the PLO office in Washington will close at this point." The office had served as Palestine's de facto embassy in Washington.

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 reasons 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 U.S. has already halted all funding to the UN's Palestine refugee agency and cut more than $200 million in aid to the Palestinians.