Congress May Pull Plug on PLO Over Statehood

Are Pro-Israel Lawmakers Grandstanding or Serious?

Premature Celebration? Mahmoud Abbas celebrated the Palestinian statehood win at the United Nations. But pro-Israel lawmakers are looking for ways to punish him for the audacious move.
getty images
Premature Celebration? Mahmoud Abbas celebrated the Palestinian statehood win at the United Nations. But pro-Israel lawmakers are looking for ways to punish him for the audacious move.

By Nathan Guttman

Published December 24, 2012, issue of December 28, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Congressional supporters of Israel, seeking to punish the Palestinian Authority for its recent drive for recognition by the United Nations as an observer state, have set their sights on a conveniently local and long-standing target: the office of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Washington.

Earlier in December, a legislative proposal to downgrade the status of the PLO’s Washington delegation failed in the Senate following the U.N. General Assembly’s overwhelming vote in November to upgrade the diplomatic status of the Palestinian Authority in defiance of Washington and Jerusalem’s wishes. Undeterred, prominent House members are now pushing for a similar measure, backed by the pro-Israel lobby.

The initiative, an almost routine move when Palestinians take actions against the will of Israel and the United States, is a carefully calculated punitive step. Targeting the PLO delegation is viewed mostly as a means to signal displeasure with the Palestinians, while refraining from truly substantive changes in policy, such as closing down diplomatic and financial support from the United States for the P.A.

“This is no more than posturing,” said Philip Wilcox, a former U.S. consul general in Jerusalem and president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. “It shows how congressmen are willing to bow to the wishes of (the Israel lobby) knowing the legislation will not go anywhere.”

Shortly after the November 29 vote at the U.N. General Assembly granting the Palestinians status as a nonmember observer state, Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York and Republicans Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Barrasso of Wyoming sought to insert amendments to the defense spending bill that would have cut aid to the P.A. and closed the PLO office in Washington.

The measure was ultimately removed before the vote on the bill in the face of opposition to the provision from the Obama administration, vigorous lobbying against it by the dovish J Street lobby and a lack of active support for the proposal from the more powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee pro-Israel lobby.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • Did Hamas just take credit for kidnapping the three Israeli teens?
  • "We know what it means to be in the headlines. We know what it feels like when the world sits idly by and watches the news from the luxury of their living room couches. We know the pain of silence. We know the agony of inaction."
  • When YA romance becomes "Hasidsploitation":
  • "I am wrapping up the summer with a beach vacation with my non-Jewish in-laws. They’re good people and real leftists who try to live the values they preach. This was a quality I admired, until the latest war in Gaza. Now they are adamant that American Jews need to take more responsibility for the deaths in Gaza. They are educated people who understand the political complexity, but I don’t think they get the emotional complexity of being an American Jew who is capable of criticizing Israel but still feels a deep connection to it. How can I get this across to them?"
  • “'I made a new friend,' my son told his grandfather later that day. 'I don’t know her name, but she was very nice. We met on the bus.' Welcome to Israel."
  • A Jewish female sword swallower. It's as cool as it sounds (and looks)!
  • Why did David Menachem Gordon join the IDF? In his own words: "The Israel Defense Forces is an army that fights for her nation’s survival and the absence of its warriors equals destruction from numerous regional foes. America is not quite under the threat of total annihilation… Simply put, I felt I was needed more in Israel than in the United States."
  • Leonard Fein's most enduring legacy may be his rejection of dualism: the idea that Jews must choose between assertiveness and compassion, between tribalism and universalism. Steven M. Cohen remembers a great Jewish progressive:
  • BREAKING: Missing lone soldier David Menachem Gordon has been found dead in central Israel. The Ohio native was 21 years old.
  • “They think they can slap on an Amish hat and a long black robe, and they’ve created a Hasid." What do you think of Hollywood's portrayal of Hasidic Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.