(JNS.org) The U.S. State Department on Tuesday rejected calls by 32 members of Congress to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization's (PLO) office in Washington, D.C.
The lawmakers, including Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, sent a letter dated Dec. 18 to Secretary of State John Kerry demanding the revocation of a waiver that allows the PLO office to stay open considering that the Palestinian leaders encourage violence against Israelis.
"The United States government has an obligation to publicly denounce the PLO's actions and should immediately revoke its waiver," according to a copy of the letter posted on Cruz's website. "Allowing the PLO to maintain an office in Washington, D.C. provides no benefit to the United States or the peace process."
However, spokeswoman for the State Department, Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters at a briefing that "closing the PLO office would be detrimental to our ongoing efforts to calm tensions between Israeli's and Palestinians, advance a two-state solution and strengthen the US-Palestinian partnership."
Trudeau added that the State Department believes "the PLO has a valid place" and they would oppose efforts to close the office.
“Every administration — either Republican or Democrat — has regularly exercised waiver authorities since 1994 to allow the PLO office to remain open,” Trudeau said.