'PLO office in the United States exists in violation of the law'

Senator Cruz and Rep. Ros-Lehtinen urge Pompeo and Sessions to take action to close PLO office in Washington.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have penned a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding the status of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in the United States.

In the letter, they urge the Administration to begin taking the necessary steps and instituting the necessary legal action to close the PLO office, citing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987.

“Thirty years ago, Congress found, as part of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, enacted as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (Public Law 100-204), that the PLO and its affiliates were terrorist organizations threatening the United States. Congress therefore prohibited the PLO, among other things, from establishing or maintaining an office anywhere in the United States. Decades of PLO actions have confirmed the wisdom of that conclusion,” the Members wrote.

“Congress has sought an explanation from the Administration as to the legal basis for permitting the PLO to maintain its office in the United States despite a clear statutory command to the contrary,” they added.

“Over the years, using various authorities, Congress has permitted the President to waive that prohibition in one of two ways,” wrote Cruz and Ros-Lehtinen.

“First, the President can waive § 1003 of P.L 100-204, and allow the PLO to maintain an office in the United States, if he certifies to Congress that the Palestinians have neither obtained membership in the United Nations, nor initiated or actively supported an International Criminal Court investigation against Israeli nationals for alleged crimes against Palestinians. In November 2017, President Trump and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson correctly refused to make that certification in light of statements by PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, which baselessly called on the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Israelis,” they pointed out.

“Second, if the President cannot make that certification, he can, no less than 90 days later, issue a secondary waiver if he certifies to Congress ‘that the Palestinians have entered into direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.’ To date, President Trump has not made this certification either.”

“Because these waivers have not been issued, the PLO office in the United States has existed and exists today in violation of U.S. law. Congress has spoken clearly on this issue through the statutory text, and it has charged the Attorney General with ‘tak[ing] the necessary steps and institut[ing] the necessary legal action’ to close the PLO office. But we have become increasingly concerned that this is not occurring, and that Congress may have to take new steps to reassert its prerogatives over the use of funds to support the PLO and the existence of a PLO office.”

The U.S. threatened to shut down the PLO mission in New York back in November, when then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the Palestinian leadership warning that the delegation might be shut down as a result of Abbas's call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel and prosecute Israelis.

Later, however, State Department officials said that it was decided to keep the delegation open for at least 90 days, and at the end of that period, Trump could announce that he is prolonging its activity because it is vital for supporting "meaningful" Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Late last month, the PA official in charge of foreign affairs, Riyad al-Maliki, met with the chief prosecutor of the ICC to push for an investigation of Israeli war crimes after more than 60 Gazans were killed last week during violent riots along the border.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)