The Obama administration will allow the PLO office in Washington to fly the Palestinian flag and assume the title of "delegation."Why does the PLO have a mission in Washington, and not the pseudo-democratic Palestinian Authority?
The change in status comes with no enhancement in diplomatic status, U.S. officials said.
The new privileges for the Palestine Liberation Organization office do not mean the representation has "any diplomatic privileges or immunities," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said last Friday.
"At the request of the PLO representative, which we have granted given the improvement in the relations between the United States and Palestinians, they have requested permission to fly the Palestinian flag," he said. "And they have requested permission to call themselves the General Delegation of the PLO, which is a name that conforms to how they describe their missions in Europe, Canada, and several Latin American countries."
Crowley said the steps have symbolic value and reflect improved relations between the United States and Palestinians, but they have no meaning under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
A White House spokesman suggested the changes would help spur the Palestinians toward direct peace talks with Israel, a key demand of the Israeli and U.S. governments.
The answer to that question is terrifically important.
The Palestinian Authority is extraordinarily limited in what it can do. It reports to the corrupt, non-democratic, terrorist PLO.
The Palestinian National Authority was meant to be merely a temporary administrative entity to govern areas of the territories that Israel abandons. It has no independent power. It cannot engage in foreign policy. It does not claim to represent any Palestinian Arabs outside the territories.
Only a couple of months ago, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad admitted that the PLO has the official mandate of all affairs of the Palestinian Arab people, and that the PA was just a tool of that organization.
The Palestinian Authority has no independent power.
When Israel negotiates, directly or indirectly, with Mahmoud Abbas, he is not representing the Palestinian Arabs of the West Bank when he puts forth his positions. He represents the PLO and Fatah, both of which he leads. He is constrained not by the will of the people but by the members of the other two groups - most of whom are more extreme than he is.
The official delegations of the PalArabs to all countries are from the PLO, not the PA. And the PLO, not the PA, is recognized internationally as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."
The PLO, of course, has never really repealed its charter that calls for the destruction of Israel. It claimed to have repealed the sections that call for Israel's destruction, but never spelled out what those sections were or what they were replaced with, and until it publishes a new charter, the old one should be regarded as the only official charter that they adhere to.
And the PLO is dominated by Fatah, which still calls to "liquidate the Zionist entity politically, economically, militarily, culturally and ideologically." (The leader of Fatah, as we mentioned, is Israel's "peace partner" Mahmoud Abbas.)
[There was some talk in January that a translation of the Fatah charter written last summer did not mention destroying Israel. However, a careful look at that charter shows that it is only called an "internal charter." It refers to the "Basic Charter ratified by Fatah's Fourth General Conference held in Tunis in 1989" and defines its scope as purely "to regulate the relationship between the members, cadres, frameworks, and leaders of Fatah, and to define their tasks, duties, and methods of struggle to achieve the goals of Fatah." In other words, the published charter was not a new Fatah charter but rather a replacement of parts of the charter. The previous clauses to destroy Israel were not eliminated.)
The PLO mission in Washington is exactly what it appears - an official US recognition of an organization that is still sworn to destroy Israel, filled with members who are also sworn to destroy Israel through their party affiliation. As much as Westerners love Salam Fayyad, he is a technocratic puppet to put a moderate face on what is a fundamentally rotten infrastructure. Fayyad couldn't visit Washington or Paris or London without permission from the PLO.
And the only "moderation" that the PLO and Fatah exhibit is their refusal to explicitly call for Israel's destruction in English as Hamas and other groups do, and Westerners are keen to seize on that as proof of their pragmatism and peaceful intentions.