The authors of the bill say that the PLO is defeating the purpose its offices exist in Washington, and therefore should be closed down.
Members of US Congress are set to take action against the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) embassy in Washington and shutter it if the Palestinians continue to pursue Israel at international forums and bring charges against it at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, and if it unilaterally seeks state-status.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, and Senator Ted Cruz introduced the PLO Accountability Act last week, which calls for action against the Palestinians in wake of their actions that counter efforts towards peace.
The new bill calls for closure of the PLO office in Washington unless and until the President certifies in writing to Congress, that the Palestinians have not unilaterally obtained state standing in the United Nations or any of its member or affiliate organizations after April 1, 2015, that they have ceased to be members of ICC and that any and all preliminary examinations or ongoing investigations against Israel or Israeli nationals at the ICC are dropped.
Furthermore, the bill demands that they no longer provide financial payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel or the families of those who have committed attacks, and that they no longer promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, which is a driving force behind six months of Palestinian terrorist attacks which have claimed the lives of 30 victims and wounded over 300.
Ros-Lehtinen was joined by Congressman Mark Meadows in leading this effort, and is accompanied by 11 other original co-sponsors.
The Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987 prohibited the PLO from maintaining an office in the United States. However, since 1994, this prohibition has been waived by consecutive administrations and a PLO office has been allowed to operate in Washington for the purpose of implementing the Oslo Accords and facilitating the Middle East Peace process, an objective Ros-Lehtinen believes the Palestinians are actively countering.
“The PLO office in Washington, D.C. was allowed to open in 1994, despite a prohibition in US law, with the intention of implementing the Oslo Accords and facilitating a Middle East peace, but in the 22 years its doors have been open, the PLO has done nothing but violate Oslo and make the possibility of a lasting peace even more remote,” Ros-Lehtinen charged. “There is simply no justification in allowing the PLO office to remain while Palestinian leaders openly incite violence against Israel, continue their efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State at the UN, and move forward with their scheme to achieve unilateral statehood at the UN without reaching a negotiated agreement with Israel.”
She said the legislation that they have introduced in both the House and Senate will ensure that the Palestinians “no longer get a free pass and will be held accountable for their actions.”
“The Palestinian Liberation Organization has for decades been a relentless advocate for terrorist violence against the Jewish people. The United States needs to make it perfectly clear to the Palestinians that this behavior is intolerable, and that we stand with our ally Israel,” Cruz, who is working head to secure the Republican candidacy, said. “Closing the PLO office in Washington D.C. sends the clear signal that the days of America turning a blind eye to the militant anti-Semitism of this organization are over, and that we will no longer allow political correctness to force us to host terrorist organizations in Washington, D.C.”
Last December, the State Department rejected a petition by 32 members of Congress to close the PLO embassy in Washington in response to the wave of Palestinian terror attacks.
“I would note we believe closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm current tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution, and strengthen the US-Palestinian partnership,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said, explaining the Obama administration’s refusal to comply with the lawmakers’ petition.