palestinian flag march 248.88 AP.
(photo credit: )
WASHINGTON – The US State Department said Friday that it had not upgraded the
status of the PLO mission in Washington, despite a decision to allow it to fly a
Palestinian flag and call itself a General Delegation of the PLO.
has been no change in the status of the Palestinian mission here in Washington,”
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “It operates under guidance
provided by the State Department.
It does not have any diplomatic
privileges or immunities.”
He indicated that the head of the PLO mission
had requested permission to fly the Palestinian flag and change the designation
to a general delegation in keeping with the terminology it uses in Canada,
Europe and several South American countries.
Crowley did note, however,
that the move represents an improvement in US relations with the Palestinian
The requested moves, he said, “we have granted given the
improvement in the relations between the United States and
He referred to them as having “symbolic value” reflective
of those improved relations, but stressed, “They have no meaning under the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.”
The changes at the PLO
mission come as the US has been pushing the Palestinians to move to direct talks
with the Israelis as envoy George Mitchell continues his proxy talks between the
The Palestinians have been demanding parameters and starting
points for face-to-face negotiations that Israel has rejected, and the US has
increasingly called for the PA to sit with the Israelis.
There have been
signs, however, following the visit of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier
this month and PA President Mahmoud Abbas before him, that there would be
additional gestures to the Palestinians to help pave the way for direct
The decision on the PLO mission sparked outrage from Rep.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), who sent out a statement blasting Abbas for
refusing to negotiate with Israel.
“The US rewards his corrupt,
autocratic PLO with more symbols of legitimacy, treating it like a sovereign
state,” she said. “On the other hand, Israel continues to be an indispensable
democratic ally – but the US still refuses to move our embassy to Israel’s
She concluded, “Instead of giving more undeserved gifts
to the PLO, it’s time for us to kick the PLO out of the US once and for all, and
move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, where it belongs.”