PLO Official Given Visa to Enter U.S.

The U.S. government, without public notice, has for the first time provided an official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Mahmoud Salem Darwish, with a visa to enter this country with freedom to go and do as he pleases. Up to now, PLO members have been restricted to New York and for United Nations business only in accordance with the U.S.-UN understanding.

The visa for Darwish was seen as a further step in the U.S. approaches to the PLO, despite its record of terrorism. This “first” is under new legislation sponsored by Sen. George McGovern (D.SD). The State Department told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it authorized a visa for Darwish on Oct. 18 and on the following day it was issued by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

Apart from those facts, the Department was silent on most pertinent questions: his purpose for coming to the U.S.; his place of birth; the national identity of his passport; his affiliation and actions with the PLO; when he applied for his visa; and his occupation.

Information bearing on those questions was side-stepped. A State Department spokesman said it was confidential and is locked up in Darwish’s file, not to be released except for court trial purposes. The spokesman would not say how long Darwish can stay in the U.S. or disclose the manner and by whom his background was investigated before the visa was granted. The spokesman said the duration of his stay is up to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, a part of the Department of Justice.

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