Kerry Refuses to Shut Down PLO’s Washington, DC Office

December 23, 2015

2 min read

On Tuesday, the State Department rejected calls by 32 members of Congress to close the offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, DC.

The 32 lawmakers, represented by Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz, who wrote the open letter along with Congressional member Mark Meadows, called on Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke the permit allowing the PLO to keep an office open in the US capital.

The PLO office is essentially the equivalent of a Palestinian Authority (PA) embassy in Washington, acting both as a consulate and as a diplomatic entity.

The letter, released by Cruz’s office on Friday, pointed out that recent Palestinian terror and violence against Israelis and Jews is largely fomented by “the message of hatred and intolerance proclaimed by leaders within the Palestinian Liberation Organization.”

Cruz, who currently holds second place behind Donald Trump in the GOP race for the presidential nomination, wrote that the relationship between acts of terror and incitement by Arab leaders is clear, saying, “The spike in violence in Israel is directly connected to the Palestinian government’s teaching of hate and glorification of terrorism.”

Indeed, Palestinian incitement has been a serious pressure behind the recent rise in terror. Much of the rhetoric revolves around the Temple Mount, which PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinians to “liberate” from the “filthy feet” of the Jews.

The letter also pointed out that the PLO funds terror by giving financial compensation to imprisoned terrorists “as a way of rewarding and incentivizing terror attacks.”

“Each year, the PLO provides about $150 million to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and families of deceased terrorists,” the letter reads.

Though the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act forbade the PLO from operating an office in the US, the letter states that every year since 1994, the US president in power has signed a waiver allowing it to remain open – this despite open recognition from the House of Representatives and the Senate that Palestinian leadership incites to violence.

“The United States government has an obligation to publicly denounce the PLO’s actions and should immediately revoke its waiver,” the letter declares, adding that allowing the PLO to maintain their office “provides no benefit to…the peace process.”

The letter concludes, “Closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. would send a clear statement that the kind of incitement to violence perpetrated by the PLO and its leaders will not be tolerated.”

However, the State Department rejected the call on Tuesday, saying via spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau, “We believe that closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution and strengthen the U.S.-Palestinian partnership.”

Trudeau added that the State Department believes the PLO has “a valid place”, and that it will oppose any efforts to have the PLO office in Washington closed.

The letter came as Congress voted to approve a spending bill which reasserted the US’s legal right to punish the PLO office and the PA if they continue to work against Israel. The bill states that if Palestinian leadership pursues investigations against Israel in the International Criminal Court, attempts to bypass negotiations and seek UN membership, or forms a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas, the US will shut down the PLO’s Washington office and cut off aid to the PA.

Though several of those conditions have been met – Abbas pushed through an upgrade in UN status in 2012, and the PA’s Fatah party reached an agreement with Hamas in 2014 – the law has never been enforced.

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