Hagerty Joins Colleagues in Urging the Biden Administration To Uphold U.S. Law and Not Reopen Palestinian Diplomatic Missions
WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) today joined a group of Republican colleagues, led by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), in pressing the Biden Administration to adhere to U.S. law and refrain from reopening the Mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem for the Palestinians.
In their letter to President Joe Biden, the Senator’s wrote, “while we are committed to working with you on constructive ways to engage with the Palestinian people, we oppose any efforts by your administration to provide rewards and incentives to the Palestinian leadership or Hamas for their abhorrent support of violence and terrorism, their efforts to press the ICC to illegitimately investigate Israel, and other efforts to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel.”
Hagerty just returned from a CODEL to Israel where he met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, and many Israeli Defense Force (IDF) commanders and troops.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
We write with regard to your administration’s reported plans relating to U.S. diplomatic relations with the Palestinians. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent announcement that the U.S. will move to reopen the Consulate General in Jerusalem that oversaw relations with the Palestinians as well as reports that your administration plans to re-open the Mission of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington, D.C. are deeply concerning. It is particularly misguided at a time when the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by Mahmoud Abbas along with the Iran-backed terrorist organization Hamas, incited and supported recent violent riots, rock throwing, and other terror attacks in Jerusalem. This was escalated by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing more than 4,000 rockets that rained down terror on Israeli civilians. We urge you to adhere to U.S. law and ensure both of these diplomatic missions remain closed.
In 2018, the Trump Administration, in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (P.L.104-45), officially opened the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem and in 2019, merged the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Jerusalem with the Consul General’s official residence into the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. This facilitated U.S. policy to rightfully reflect the reality that Jerusalem is Israel’s united and historic capital, and became formally compliant with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Re-opening this diplomatic mission to the Palestinians in Israel’s capital would wrongly indicate that the U.S. supports dividing the capital city of our close ally and would only reward the Palestinian leadership’s continued hostility toward Israel. This hostility has included the spreading of false propaganda that contributed to the recent violence in Jerusalem, supporting an illegitimate International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation against Israel for non-existent war crimes, and incentivizing and rewarding terrorism through paying terrorists and their families. We understand the need to have direct engagement with Palestinian leadership but we oppose granting the Palestinians a diplomatic mission in Israel’s capital city, which is undisputed under U.S. law.
We are also concerned with reports that your administration is considering reopening the PLO Mission in Washington D.C. Furthermore, your administration must uphold U.S. law that seeks to hold the PLO and PA accountable to financial claims against them in U.S. courts by American victims of Palestinian terrorism. We urge you to ensure that that there is no type of evasion or undermining of the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 (PSJVTA, § 903 of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, P.L. 116-94). This bipartisan law deems any reestablishment of an office on American soil by the PLO or PA as consent to jurisdiction in U.S. courts in cases by American families for heinous PLO/PA-sponsored terror attacks. These families seek justice and compensation for victims of Palestinian terrorist activities incited by hateful rhetoric and abhorrent policies and practices, including the “pay-for-slay” programs sponsored by the Palestinian Authority and the PLO. Allowing the reopening of the PLO mission in Washington, D.C. without requiring the PA and PLO to answer for these claims would be a betrayal of American families who are seeking their day in court.
While we are committed to working with you on constructive ways to engage with the Palestinian people, we oppose any efforts by your administration to provide rewards and incentives to the Palestinian leadership or Hamas for their abhorrent support of violence and terrorism, their efforts to press the ICC to illegitimately investigate Israel, and other efforts to circumvent direct negotiations with Israel. As long as the Palestinian Authority and Iranian-backed Hamas, or other Palestinian terrorist groups, are not held accountable for their actions, the Palestinian people will continue to suffer and there will be no prospects for a long term and peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
We urge your administration to reconsider these actions and to work with Congress to craft policies that support our ally, Israel, and assist the Palestinian people.
Thank you for your attention to these matters.