The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised Members of Congress Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairwoman, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Allen West (R-FL) for their criticizing of President Barack Obamas approval of the flying of the PLO flag over the PLO Mission in Washington, D.C. The PLO Mission raised the PLO flag for the first time on January 18.
Cong. Ros-Lehtinen criticized this development, saying, Raising this flag in DC is part of the Palestinian leaderships scheme to manipulate international acceptance and diplomatic recognition of a yet-to-be-created Palestinian state while refusing to directly negotiate with Israel or accept the existence of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state. The Palestinian leaderships ongoing drive to win recognition from foreign governments, and its latest push to condemn Israel at the UN, is part of the same strategy aimed at extracting concessions without being required to meet international commitments The U.S. has reinforced Ramallahs rejectionism through economic and political support, including support for the PLO office in Washington, instead of requiring that they meet all conditions in U.S. law. Governments worldwide will interpret such actions as tacit U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state. These actions send precisely the wrong message to foreign governments. Its long past time to change course, uphold our own laws by holding Ramallah accountable for its commitments, and encourage other responsible nations to do likewise (Ros-Lehtinen Says PLO Flag Raising Part of Scheme for Recognition without Meeting Obligations, Committee on Foreign Affairs, January 18, 2011).
Cong. West joined Ros-Lehtinen in criticizing the move, saying that the raising of the flag is an attempt to legitimize an organization with a known history of terrorist actions By allowing this flag to be flown, the United States is extending a diplomatic right that we refrain from offering to even our own allies, like Taiwan. This action is a diplomatic slap in the face of our greatest of allies, Israel (Brittany Wallman, New congressman Rep. Allen West denounces raising of PLO flag, Sun-Sentinel [South Florida], January 19, 2011).
The PLO was granted permission to fly its flag over its Washington Mission since last July, when the Obama Administration upgraded its diplomatic status to that of a general delegation, a step which the ZOA strongly opposed and criticized at the time. A general delegation is lower than an embassy (which, normally, only sovereign states enjoy in foreign countries). At the time, the Israeli daily Haaretz described the Obama Administrations decision as a major step above what the PA has had until now as well as one of several steps it intends to take in an effort to entice Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas into direct talks with Israel (Natasha Mozgovaya, Barak Ravid & Avi Issacharoff, U.S. upgrades diplomatic ties with Palestinians in bid to woo Abbas: Palestinian mission in Washington granted title of ‘general delegation’ and given permission to hang PLO flag at entrance, Haaretz, July 23, 2010).
Abbas and the PA pocketed this unilateral American gift, which represents an on-going reward for continuing PA incitement to hatred and murder and refusal to negotiate. The PA subsequently spoke briefly to Israel in talks in Washington, before breaking them off again.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, We applaud Members of Congress Ros-Lehtinen and West for their strong, unambiguous and principled stand opposing this retrograde move by the Obama Administration, which we roundly criticized at the time.
There is simply no doubt that this unmerited upgrade gives PA officials in Washington something they did not have before diplomatic immunity and the status that comes with it. President Obama gave Abbas PA this upgrade despite the complete absence of Palestinian action to arrest terrorists, and end incitement. The fact is that the PA has not altered its behavior, despite receiving between $600 million and $1 billion in U.S. aid in each of the last two years. And since receiving this latest concession from the Obama Administration has caused no change in PA behavior, it is clear that any concessions by the U.S. and Israel do not help to moderate the PA or give it incentive to become moderate.
There must be negative consequence for the PAs anti-peace actions, not positive rewards. This only sends a message to the PA that there is no need for them to honor agreements or reform the extremist, anti-peace nature of the PA in order for them to earn any concessions or rewards.