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Palestinian envoy recalled from Washington

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The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, has been recalled to Ramallah for consultations.

According to the Palestinian news agency Wafa, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, said that discussions would take place “to set the decisions needed by the Palestinian leadership in the coming period regarding our relations with the US”. He added that the envoy is expected to return to “his normal work” after the discussions. In a Facebook post on Monday, Zomlot, said he would be returning to the US after spending time “with loved ones”.

Relations between the PLO and the US have been tense since US President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement in December.

Speaking at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul in December following the announcement, Palestinian Authority (PA) President, Mahmoud Abbas formally declared that the Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator in the Middle East peace process. Abbas said the Palestinians would go to the United Nations Security Council to seek full UN membership while also asking it to take control of the peace process as Washington was no longer “fit” for the task.

There are also contrasting reports about US Vice President Mike Pence’s delayed visit to Israel and Egypt. He was originally due to visit in mid-December, but it was postponed to help ensure the passage of tax reform legislation.  The Palestinian Authority announced that Abbas refused to meet Pence and a number of Christian leaders in Egypt and the West Bank also said they would not meet him. The visit was then postponed until January.

Although a White House official this week that Pence would still be visiting in January, the visit did not appear on an official visits list for this month published on Monday by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.