National Security

State Department dismisses Cruz demand to close PLO office

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The Obama administration on Tuesday largely dismissed Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) plea to close the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Washington office, after he rallied 31 lawmakers to his side.

State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau declined to specifically respond to the letter that Cruz sent with 30 other Republican lawmakers last week.

{mosads}However, the administration would “oppose those efforts” to close the Palestinian organization’s office, she said during the department’s daily briefing on Tuesday.

“Every administration — either Republican or Democrat — has regularly exercised waiver authorities since 1994 to allow the PLO office to remain open,” Trudeau said.

“We believe closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution and strengthen the Palestinian partnership.”

Last week, Cruz, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and 30 other GOP lawmakers told Secretary of State John Kerry that PLO leaders were advancing a “message of hatred and intolerance” that has spurred Palestinians to violence against Israelis.

“The United States government has an obligation to publicly denounce the PLO’s actions and should immediately revoke its waiver,” the lawmakers wrote. “Allowing the PLO to maintain an office in Washington, D.C. provides no benefit to the United States or the peace process.

“Closing the PLO office in Washington, D.C. would send a clear statement that the kind of incitement to violence perpetrated by the PLO and its leaders will not be tolerated.” 

The letter from Cruz and other lawmakers comes weeks after a spike of renewed aggression between Israelis and Palestinians in and around East Jerusalem earlier this year. The violence has largely subsided in recent weeks, after initial fears that it could spark a third Intifada, or uprising.

Since 1994, presidents have relied on waivers to existing legislation banning contact with the PLO and prohibiting the organization from keeping an office within the U.S.

Tags John Kerry Palestine Liberation Organization Ted Cruz
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