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

(page 2 of 3)

But on December 10, four top members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee revived the issue in a letter to President Obama. Signed by the committee’s outgoing leaders, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), and by the committee’s incoming chairman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), and future ranking Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the letter urged Obama to send a strong signal to the Palestinians, following the U.N. vote, “that such actions are not cost-free.”

“We can do this by closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C.,” the House members said. “We can also call our consul-general in Jerusalem home for consultations. We urge you to take these steps.”

To Maen Rashid Areikat, head of the PLO Washington delegation, such ritual exercises show that “some members of Congress spearheading these efforts don’t believe in a dialogue and open communication.” In a December 14 interview with the Forward, Areikat argued that such measures would harm interests of the United States, not just those of the Palestinians. “Whose interests will it serve? No one’s,” he said. “How can the U.S. advance peace if it’s not dealing with the Palestinians?”

The Palestinians’ official presence in the United States has evolved over many years, starting with a PLO information office that opened in 1978, when the policy of the United States prohibited any contact between American officials and the PLO, then designated as a terrorist organization. After the United States launched a diplomatic dialogue with the PLO in 1988, the PLO office became the Palestine Affairs Center. The office gained upgraded recognition following the 1993 Oslo Accords, and in 2010 it received its current designation as the PLO General Delegation. With this recognition, the office received permission to fly the Palestinian flag over its offices in Washington’s Dupont Circle.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, defended the congressional letter calling for action against the PLO’s diplomatic representatives. “When they violate agreements, when they describe Israel as a war criminal when it is defending itself from thousands of rockets, we think they should be taken to task on it,” Oren told the Forward.


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!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.