WASHINGTON (Jul. 1)
The State Department has acknowledged that PLO representative Shawfiq AI-Hut violated the conditions under which he was permitted to come to Washington last week for a luncheon meeting with U.S. Senators hosted by Sen, James Abourezk (D.SD). Department spokesman Roland Funseth said Tuesday. AI-Hut was interviewed on a local television program last Thursday without having been granted permission by the State Department. He met with the Senators Friday.
Representatives of the PLO who have observer status at the United Nations are not permitted to travel beyond a 25-mile radius of New York City without express permission of the State Department. Such permission is conditional on their not engaging in public political activities.
“We approved his (AI-Hut’s) visit to Washington with the standard condition that he engage in no political activity. In our view this (the interview) was inconsistent with the conditions of the visit and we have informed the PLO in New York of this.” Funseth said.
Asked whether Abourezk had apologized for the violation by his guest, Funseth said, “I have no way of knowing whether the Senator was involved with this man holding an interview.” He explained that AI-Hut was invited by a reporter for an off-the-record breakfast “that would not be in violation of the regulations” because it is not regarded as “a public activity.” But the TV interview materialized.
ISRAEL EMBASSY CONCERNED
Funseth added, “I understand the Israel Embassy has made known its concerns to us and we have given them the explanation we have given you. Their Embassy is concerned about what they regard as public political activity.”
Observers here expressed surprise that the State Department had no knowledge, or did not indicate it had knowledge, of Al-Hut’s violation until Monday. Department spokesman Frederick Brown made no mention of the TV interview when he briefed reporters Monday on the PLO representative’s visit. But he did confirm a previous violation of the travel conditions by an other PLO representative who made a political speech in Chicago and held a press conference in Washington last November.
Funseth reiterated Tuesday that the State Department considers “each request on a case by-case basis and obviously we will take into account the two cases mentioned. We understand that these violations will be taken into account in future requests.” He also said that members of the PLO delegation were under no restrictions regarding political activity within 25 miles of New York City.