PLO Refuses to Close Mission; U.S. Seeking Court Injunction

The Palestine Liberation Organization refused to comply with a United States order to close its United Nations observer mission in New York on Monday.

Anticipating the PLO’s decision to ignore the March 21 deadline, Justice Department officials began filing a federal suit to force the closure. Notification of the suit was expected to be mailed to the mission by the U.S. attorney in New York on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the U.N. General Assembly continued to debate in special session a resolution to condemn the United States for ordering the closure of the mission. A vote on the proposal was not expected until Wednesday, according to officials at the U.S. and Israeli missions to the United Nations.

According to a Justice Department spokesperson in Washington, the department had “no reason to believe” the PLO would respond to Attorney General Edwin Meese’s March 11 letter ordering the mission closed. The letter was aimed at enforcing the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, which Congress passed in December.

Upon receiving notification of the suit seeking an injunction to close the mission, the PLO will have 20 days to respond. A mechanism exists for the Justice Department to seek an expedited hearing on the case, although the spokesperson was not aware that such a step had been requested.

A spokesperson at the U.S. mission to the United Nations said that the United States could resort to making the PLO office “unserviceable” by withholding water or electricity, although such a suggestion was still hypothetical.

The General Assembly’s special session marks the second time this month the body has met to discuss the closing of the PLO mission. Member nations voted 143-1 on March 2 to adopt a resolution calling on the United States to allow the mission to remain open. Israel cast the only negative vote and the United States did not vote.

Neither U.S. nor Israeli delegates are participating in the current General Assembly debate.

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