WASHINGTON - The US State Department is pushing back against Republican calls for the government to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization's offices in Washington.
The Republican leadership says the PLO office serves no purpose, since its leaders in Ramallah have failed to condemn the recent wave of violence against Israeli civilians as acts of terrorism. But the State Department says a Palestinian presence in Washington is essential to keep lines of communication open and to maintain a direct relationship with the organization.
GOP lawmakers, led by Republican presidential contender Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, wrote in a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry this week that the US "has an obligation to publicly denounce the PLO's actions and should immediately revoke its waiver."
"The spike in violence in Israel is directly connected to the Palestinian government’s teaching of hate and glorification of terrorism," the letter reads, noting of House and Senate resolutions passed this fall condemning the PA for inciting violence. "Allowing the PLO to maintain an office in Washington, DC provides no benefit to the United States or the peace process."