J Street Statement on Moves to Force Closure of the PLO Mission in the United States

November 30th, 2012

By Dylan Williams, J Street Director of Government Affairs. 

J Street expresses grave concern over moves in Congress to force the closure of the diplomatic offices of the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the United States. We urge the President, Senators and Members of the House of Representatives to work to ensure that the PLO is permitted to maintain its diplomatic mission to our country.

J Street reiterates its strong opposition to any moves to punish Palestinian President Abbas, the PLO or the Palestinian Authority for obtaining upgraded status at the United Nations, including any suggestion of closing the diplomatic offices of the PLO.

At a time when the United States should be looking for ways to encourage and deepen diplomacy, talk of ejecting one of the parties from the country defies logic. Taking such a draconian move would, quite understandably, widely undermine confidence in the leadership role of the United States in resolving this conflict through a two-state solution.

The security interests of the United States require that we often host the diplomatic missions of those with whom we disagree on a range of issues. Forcing the closure of such an office is an extraordinary step usually reserved for instances in which the United States is responding to deadly acts committed against our country or citizens, or gross violations of human rights by the government in question.

The Palestinian approach to the UN General Assembly falls far short of this line. One may profoundly disagree with the decision to bring the question of statehood to the General Assembly, but it is a peaceful, non-violent move within the legal rights of the Palestinians. Further, the resolution passed by the UN General Assembly expressly acknowledges the need for meaningful negotiations, specifically referencing relevant UN precedents and other international statements, affirming Israel’s right to exist in peace and security, and incorporating the notion that the borders of Israel and of the new Palestinian state will be based on the June 4, 1967 Green Line with negotiated adjustments.

Significantly, the efforts of President Abbas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization to achieve their goals through peaceful and legal means stand in stark contrast to the actions of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror organizations. In just the past few weeks, we have seen vividly the consequences of the path being taken by those Palestinians who choose violence and terror and refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. With such extremist groups eager to expand their power, the United States must takes steps that strengthen rather than undermine President Abbas and the institutions he oversees.