NEW YORK (Sep. 1)
A top official of the Zionist Organization of America has sharply criticized the Reagan administration’s decision earlier this week not to contest a federal court ruling barring the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s observer mission to the United Nations.
“It appears that President Reagan has drawn a fundamental conclusion that the PLO may be an acceptable partner in future negotiations, and that the legality or the morality of the issue was no longer a major consideration,” said Paul Flacks, executive vice president of the ZOA.
Flacks noted that the ZOA actively sought to close the PLO mission and recently sent telegrams to the Justice Department and President Reagan urging that the administration appeal the federal court decision.
The June ruling, by Judge Edmund Palmieri of the U.S. District Court in New York, held that closing the mission would violate the 1947 U.N. Headquarters Agreement, which prevents host nations from closing the U.N. missions of member-states.
The challenge was brought after the PLO ignored Justice Department orders to close the office by March 21 under the 1987 Anti-Terrorism Act, which led to the closure of the PLO’s information office in Washington.
“If in fact the decision was passed on a judgment regarding legal implications, we would still urge the administration to challenge the ruling,” Flacks said.
“But when it is a blatant political decision, it creates considerable concern by those who have supported the administration’s previous strong position that the PLO was a terrorist organization,” he said.
Flacks also indicated that the ZOA will most likely initiate public action to challenge the anticipated visit this fall of PLO leader Yasir Arafat to the United Nations, where he hopes to address the General Assembly.
The organization will urge the administration not to issue an entry visa, based on the premise that Arafat continues to head an organization that advocates terrorism.