U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

10/06/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/06/2021 22:48

Risch Opposes Re-Opening of PLO Office in U.S.

June 10, 2021

Risch Opposes Re-Opening of PLO Office in U.S.

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to President Biden voicing concerns over the review to re-open the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Office in the United States that was dissolved under the Trump Administration.

'I strongly believe that such a reopening undermines U.S. interests, turns a blind eye to victims of Palestinian-sponsored terrorism, and will make necessary changes in Palestinian conduct less likely,' Risch wrote.

'As you know, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and PLO continue to incentivize and celebrate violence against Israelis through the egregious 'pay to slay' program,' Risch continued. 'Instead of normalizing this appalling practice through deeper relations with the PA and PLO, your administration should instead pursue changes in Palestinian policies that glorify violence and terrorism.'

'The United States is rightly skeptical of the PA's and PLO's compliance with its commitments, and the American people deserve transparency on this important issue. I look forward to consultations with the administration on this matter,' Risch concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear President Biden:

I understand that your administration is conducting a review with the goal to re-open the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in the United States that was shuttered under the Trump Administration. I strongly believe that such a reopening undermines U.S. interests, turns a blind eye to victims of Palestinian-sponsored terrorism, and will make necessary changes in Palestinian conduct less likely.

As you know, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and PLO continue to incentivize and celebrate violence against Israelis through the egregious 'pay to slay' program. In 2019 alone, the Palestinians spent $151 million dollars to support imprisoned terrorists and their families. In addition to these prisoner payments, the PA and PLO maintain a 'martyrs' fund' that supports the families of terrorists killed while committing acts of violence. Instead of normalizing this appalling practice through deeper relations with the PA and PLO, your administration should instead pursue changes in Palestinian policies that glorify violence and terrorism.

In addition to Palestinian policies that incentivize violence, the legal requirements under the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), and the 2019 Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act (PSJVTA) are clear. The 1987 ATA specifically states that 'the PLO and its affiliates are a terrorist organization and a threat to the interests of the United States, its allies, and to international law and should not benefit from operating in the United States.'

There is also the matter of Palestinian elections. Originally scheduled for May, Mahmoud Abbas has sought yet another delay over fears Hamas would defeat his Fatah party at the polls. Hamas remains a designated foreign terrorist organization, and the potential for it to fully take over Palestinian governance remains a compelling reason to avoid opening an office in the United States.

The United States is rightly skeptical of the PA's and PLO's compliance with its commitments, and the American people deserve transparency on this important issue. I look forward to consultations with the administration on this matter.

Sincerely,

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