US Insists 'No Change in PA Status' Despite Flag Waving
The United States insists that allowing the Palestinian Authority to fly its flag in Washington does not represent an upgrade in its diplomatic status. The PA said Friday that the American government is changing the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) mission’s designation from “mission" to "special delegation.”
The change allows the flying of the PA flag at the entrance to its office and grants PA officials cetain privileges..
However, U.S. State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley told reporters that the report was partially incorrect and that the permission for flying the PA flag was only symbolic. “There has been no change in the status of the Palestinian mission here in Washington…. It does not have any diplomatic privileges or immunities,” he stated.
Crowley explained that an “improvement in the relations between the United States and Palestinians” led to the allowing of a PLO request “to call itself the General Delegation of the PLO, which is a name that conforms to how they describe their missions in Europe, Canada, and several Latin American countries. But these steps have symbolic value…but they have no meaning under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
Crowley said that the Obama administration “recognized its importance’ to the PLO and granted the request but insisted that “their status as a mission has not changed.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly agreed with the decision to allow the PA flag but only on condition of a halt in Arab incitement against Israel. Government spokespersons expressed disappointment on Friday that this was not done, but were not available for comment on the official State Department report on Sunday.