U.S. law clearly prohibits the entry of officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Despite this ban, on Oct. 5, 2022 the Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Hussein Al-Sheikh, entered the U.S. He then held high-level discussions with officials of the Biden administration, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Andrew Plitt and Megan Doherty of USAID.
Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part II, § 1182(a)(3)(B)(i)(I) of the U.S. Code clearly prohibits aliens who have “engaged in terrorist activity” from entering the U.S. Subsection IX adds, “An alien who is an officer, official, representative or spokesman of the Palestine Liberation Organization is considered, for purposes of this chapter, to be engaged in a terrorist activity.”
For many years, the PLO was permitted to operate an office in Washington D.C. because successive U.S. administrations waived the aforementioned prohibition. However, in 2018, the PLO offices were closed after the State Department concluded that the “PLO had failed to use its Washington office to engage in direct and meaningful negotiations on achieving a comprehensive peace settlement and, therefore, closing the PLO’s Washington office would serve the foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Since then, the PLO has made no attempt “to engage in direct and meaningful negotiations.” In fact, as Palestinian Media Watch has shown, the PLO has taken active steps in the opposite direction, including the promotion of terror against Israel. As a result, despite its campaign promises to do so, the Biden administration has not reopened the PLO’s Washington offices, because the administration is prohibited from doing so under U.S. law.
The most important reason to deny PLO officials entry to the U.S., however, is that PLO factions are still actively engaged in terror.
The PLO is dominated by the Fatah Party, headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Al-Sheikh is not only the Secretary General of the PLO—the second-most senior position in the organization—but also a senior member of Fatah. Fatah’s “military wing,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, is a U.S.-designated terror organization. Fatah has never abandoned the use of violence and terror to achieve its goals, and the last year has seen a rise in Fatah terror activity.
Other actions taken by the PLO and its members have included the glorification of terrorist murderers and attacks; repeated threats to revoke the already empty PLO recognition of Israel’s right to exist; the renunciation of all agreements with Israel; and the PLO’s continued involvement in the Palestinian Authority’s terror rewarding “pay-for-slay” policy.
Given the overwhelming evidence proving the continued participation of the PLO and its factions in terror activities, we must ask: Who waived U.S. law in order to allow Al-Sheikh into the U.S. and what was the justification for doing so?
IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Maurice Hirsch is the Director of Legal Strategies for Palestinian Media Watch. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps. In his last position, he served as director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. He is also a member of Israel’s Defense and Security Forum and an advisor to the Israel Victory Project.
This article was originally published by Palestinian Media Watch.