WASHINGTON (Oct. 5)
If members of the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation to the United Nations participate in a public meeting in New York, they will be in violation of the visas allowing them to enter the United States, the State Department warned Thursday.
Deputy spokesman Richard Boucher said the State Department was notified by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York that it had obtained a news release announcing that five high-ranking PLO leaders would address a public meeting Thursday night.
For the PLO delegates to participate in this meeting “would be in violation of there visa status,” Boucher said. “This activity is not a United Nations-related activity.”
“The visas for members of the visiting PLO delegation included a notation that the visas were in use only to attend the U.N. General Assembly,” Boucher explained.
“Any other political activities were prohibited under the terms of the visas issuance and this was explained to the applicants at the time.”
Boucher would not say whether participation in prohibited activities would result in the expulsion from the United States of the PLO delegates.
Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) urged the State Department to expel members of the PLO if they violate the regulations of their visas.
“If these thugs in diplomatic disguise violate any visa conditions whatsoever, they should be immediately expelled from our shores,” D’Amato said in a statement.
VIOLATION OF VISA STATUS
Boucher said the U.S. mission had brought the news release announcing the meeting to the attention of the U.N. Secretariat and asked it to inform the PLO’s permanent representative at the United Nations of the U.S. position.
The news release, issued by a group called the Palestine Solidarity Committee, said that “a high-ranking Palestinian delegation, representing the PLO’s executive committee, will address the U.S. public on Thursday night.”
The meeting was to be held at the U.N. Church Center in United Nations Plaza, across from the United Nations.
Unconfirmed reports Thursday evening indicated the meeting might be canceled.
Among the PLO officials scheduled to attend were Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO’s political department; Tayseer Quba’a, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and Yasir Abed Rabbo, deputy leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and head of the PLO delegation that meets with U.S. Ambassador Robert Pelletreau in Tunisia.
When the Jewish Telegraphic Agency called the Palestine Solidarity Committee, a spokeswoman said it was not a meeting but a news conference. But asked if it was open only to reporters, she replied, “Everybody will be admitted.”
Last week, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sharply criticized the decision by the State Department to grant visas to the PLO delegates.
(JTA staff writer Allison Kaplan in New York contributed to this report.)