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The United States and the PLO

Although the Palestine Liberation Organization has two offices in New York with U.S. official consent and U.S. Embassy officials in Beirut are in communication with the PLO terrorists there, the State Department insists that the United States does not “recognize” the PLO.

This developed when the Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked the Department to clarify its written response of about 350 words to a previous JTA question regarding reported fund-raising in the U.S. by the PLO.

The statement noted that the PLO established an “information office” in New York in 1965 and registered with the U.S. Justice Department at that time as “a foreign agent.” It files reports every six months with the Justice Department, the response said. The PLO observer office, on the other hand, was set up under a UN General Assembly resolution. It “is not registered with Justice and need not be,” the State Department said.

CONTACT, BUT NO RECOGNITION

Since the end of June, U.S. officials have been in contact with the PLO in Lebanon for purposes of protecting Americans at the Embassy there, U.S. authorities have said. Asked by JTA whether the contacts in Beirut, together with the PLO offices in New York, add up to U.S. “de facto” if not “de jure” recognition of the PLO, the Department’s chief spokesman Robert Funseth replied “neither.” He said the contacts did not constitute “substantive” action of recognition.

Columnists Jack Anderson and Les Whitten reported on Sept. 20 that the PLO received a check for $4984 from persons in Virginia. The PLO observer office director, Zuhdi Terzi, admitted to them that he received the check, the columnists said, and that he forwarded it to Jacob Oubedi PLO’s top fund-raiser in Beirut.

Oubedi, the columnists said, signed a thank you note, written in Arabic on the stationery of the PLO’s UN office and addressed to the “Palestinian Committee in the State of Virginia.” Terzi also admitted, the columnists said, that the PLO fund drive reached into many states but that money for the PLO was scarce.

Funseth acknowledged as “correct” that the PLO received the $4984. The Department’s statement said the U.S. Mission to the UN brought the matter to the UN Secretariate’s attention and the U.S. Mission itself “reviewed this matter directly” with Terzi.

According to the statement, the U.S. officials told Terzi “fund-raising is not an appropriate part of the functions of the PLO observer office or its members” and that in the future in “incidents of this nature” the U.S. would be “obliged to take appropriate measures.” Funseth said he would prefer not to define the measures, pending what may take place in the future.

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