In response to media inquiries concerning the U.S. administration’s refusal to extend the waiver of statutory restrictions on the General Delegation of the PLO to the United States in Washington D.C., PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi condemned such a move and said:
“Instead of holding Israel liable for its persistent violations of international law and conventions, the U.S. administration and Congress are threatening to punish the Palestinian people because of statements made by President Mahmoud Abbas at the United Nations and other leaders pertaining to ICC accountability for Israel and for its war crimes in Palestine. It is ironic that the U.S. is taking steps to punish the victim (the occupied) and not the perpetrator of the crime (the occupier).
Conditioning the renewal of the waiver on the Palestinians’ sticking to 'direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel’ is actually superfluous since negotiations are nonexistent, and the current U.S. administration has yet to present any kind of peace initiative.
After decades of negotiations, contacts and cooperation, it is unfathomable why American relations with the PLO have not been legally normalized and why the PLO, which is the highest political body in Palestine representing all Palestinians, continues to be subject to that statute, hence to blackmail and coercion. The Palestinian leadership has been negotiating with Israel for decades and has consistently abided by international law and signed agreements while Israel persisted in violating them without accountability or constraints. Yet, it is the PLO that continues to be placed on probation and unfairly judged while Israel is given preferential treatment and license to act with full impunity.
If President Donald Trump decides not to renew the waiver after ninety days, the U.S. will embolden Israel even further and provide it with greater cover for its lack of compliance and unilateral actions. Such a measure will also disqualify the U.S. from taking any part in peacemaking and undermine its standing in the region and beyond.
If it wants to be evenhanded and play any constructive role, the U.S. government should first break its deafening silence on the illegal settlements and maintain longstanding American policy on the two-state solution and the 1967 boundaries. Recognition of Palestine would go a long way towards proving that the U.S. holds all people equal before the law.”