Republican leaders in the House and the Senate have called on President Joe Biden to suspend the reopening of the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C. citing the recent violence against Israel and the PLO’s inconsistent commitment to peace.
“I strongly believe that such a reopening undermines U.S. interests, turns a blind eye to victims of Palestinian-sponsored terrorism, and will make necessary changes in Palestinian conduct less likely,” Republican U.S. Senator Jim Risch (Idaho) wrote in a letter to Biden.
A group of 16 Senate #Republicans led by Senator Marco Rubio sent a letter to US President @JoeBiden, urging him not to reopen the #PLO office in #Washington, and the US Consulate General in #Jerusalem.https://t.co/fJizcKCBEF
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) June 9, 2021
Risch, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by 15 other Congressional Republicans in asking for the office to remain shuttered.
They say that reopening the office now would indicate that the U.S. believes in dividing the capitol between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“As you know, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and PLO continue to incentivize and celebrate violence against Israelis through the egregious ‘pay to slay’ program,” Risch continued. “Instead of normalizing this appalling practice through deeper relations with the PA and PLO, your administration should instead pursue changes in Palestinian policies that glorify violence and terrorism.”
The Trump administration shut down the PLO office in D.C. in 2018 after the PLO refused to return to meaningful peace negotiations with Israel.
Congress requires the PLO to be engaged in peace talks as a condition for the office to be open.
“We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians since the expiration of a previous waiver in November 2017,” Heather Nauert, spokeswoman for the State Department, said in a statement at the time the office was closed. “However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”
Risch said the American people are rightly skeptical of the PLO’s dedication to peace under previous agreements.