Thursday, January 10, 2013

State Dept Says it Will Keep PLO Office Open

State Dept Says it Will Keep PLO Office Open

Alana Goodman

Despite bipartisan opposition from Congress, the State Department has decided to extend a waiver to the PLO mission office, keeping it open for at least another six months, the Hill reports:

The State Department has decided to keep the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington open for another six months despite anti-terrorism legislation making it illegal, according to regulatory documents filed Tuesday.

Administrations of both parties have waived the provisions of the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act since President Clinton started doing so in 1994, citing U.S. national-security interests. The waiver is particularly controversial this time, however, because the PLO obtained the status of an observer state at the United Nations in November despite bitter opposition from the United States and Israel. 

“I hereby determine and certify that the Palestinians have not, since the date of enactment of that Act, obtained in the U.N. or any specialized agency thereof the same standing as member states or full membership as a state outside an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians,” Deputy Secretary of State William Burns wrote in a State Department notice posted Tuesday. The notice is dated Oct. 8, before the U.N. vote. 

This news isn’t exactly surprising, but to date the Palestinian Authority still hasn’t had to face any real repercussions for going against U.S. wishes at the United Nations. It could be the administration is trying to hold off to see whether the PA takes this further–attempting to petition the International Criminal Court or join UN agencies–before taking any action. But it almost encourages this behavior if there are no consequences, and it’s not as if closing the PLO mission is the administration’s only option in response to PA action. The PA also receives foreign aid, and so far there hasn’t been any sign the administration supports cutting it.