The Obama administration has decided to allow the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington, DC to fly the Palestinian flag as an official delegation representing the Palestinians.
This decision has sparked protest by some on Capitol Hill. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is now proposing the removal of any Palestinian diplomatic representation from the United States.
The gesture by the Obama administration is a symbolic one, aimed at improving relations and brining key groups back to the table for peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The move does not recognize Palestine as a state or establish a Palestinian embassy.
The PLO historically had a negative relationship with the United States, including being labeled as a terrorist organization in the 1980s.
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen is a pro-Israel advocate and seen as an “AIPAC attack dog”, said Adam Shapiro of the Free Gaza Movement.
“She has always been willing to be the first one out there to criticize the administration or a policy or anything that in any way can be remotely seen as positive for the Palestinians,” said Shapiro.
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen will likely gain some support in the US House, but not change the administration’s stance, argued Shapiro.
He also argued that some in the House may share her views; however the US Senate is not as likely to sympathize with her stance. Either way, it will likely be a meaningless effort aimed at gaining political support in the election year, said Shapiro.
Overall this is a small move on the part of the Obama administration, simply taking a step towards continuing the Israel-Palestine peace talks.