For nearly 30 years there has been a U.S. federal law that prohibits the Palestinian Liberation Organization from maintaining an office in Washington, D.C. And for more than 20 years, in the wake of the Oslo Accords, the PLO office has been open. That is because American lawmakers assumed the Oslo Accords meant the PLO was no longer a terrorist organization.
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and more than a dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation to rectify that misunderstanding.
The original law that required the shuttering of the PLO office, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, allows that law to be circumvented by a mere waiver issued by the President of the United States.
The proposed law, however, requires that the President make affirmative representations that the PLO is not doing certain things – such as engaging in the promotion of terrorism or in attempting to take certain action it is prohibited from taking under the Oslo Accords. For example, the parties to that agreement are not permitted to “initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank” until the “permanent status negotiations” are concluded.
Actions taken by the PLO, such as in 2011 becoming a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and in 2012, the “State of Palestine” seeking and being accorded non-member observer State status at the U.N., and in 2014, joining the Geneva Conventions, are all prohibited under the terms of the Oslo Accords.
The legislation – S.2537/H.R. 4522, known as the PLO Accountability Act – will require that the PLO office be shuttered unless the President of the United States certifies that the PLO is meeting the conditions contained in the bill.
The things that the U.S. President must be able to certify the PLO is not doing is: having obtained state standing in the United Nations or any of its member or affiliate organizations; having sought to become, or actually become, a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that any and all preliminary examinations or ongoing investigations against Israel or Israeli nationals at the ICC are maintained; continuing to providing financial payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel or the families of those who have committed attacks; or continuing to promoting anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement.
“The Palestinian Liberation Organization has for decades been a relentless advocate for terrorist violence against the Jewish people,” Sen. Cruz said. “The United States needs to make it perfectly clear to the Palestinians that this behavior is intolerable, and that we stand with our ally Israel. Closing the PLO office in Washington D.C. sends the clear signal that the days of America turning a blind eye to the militant anti-Semitism of this organization are over, and that we will no longer allow political correctness to force us to host terrorist organizations in Washington, D.C.”
Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said, “The PLO office in Washington, D.C. was allowed to open in 1994, despite a prohibition in U.S. law, with the intention of implementing the Oslo Accords and facilitating a Middle East peace, but in the 22 years its doors have been open, the PLO has done nothing but violate Oslo and make the possibility of a lasting peace even more remote. There is simply no justification in allowing the PLO office to remain while Palestinian leaders openly incite violence against Israel, continue their efforts to delegitimize the Jewish State at the UN, and move forward with their scheme to achieve unilateral statehood at the UN without reaching a negotiated agreement with Israel. The legislation that we have introduced in both the House and Senate will ensure that the Palestinians no longer get a free pass and will be held accountable for their actions.”