AMSTERDAM (Feb. 7)
The Netherlands has granted semi-diplomatic status to the Palestine Liberation Organization office in The Hague, in recognition of the group’s efforts toward peace.
The PLO office in the Dutch city previously served solely as an information office without having any official status.
As a result of its change of status, the office will now be able to fly the Palestinian flag outside the building in which it is housed.
The PLO currently has no full-fledged representative in The Hague. Although the capital of Holland is Amsterdam, the seat of government is The Hague.
The PLO’s last representative to Holland, Leila Shahid, left several months ago to become PLO ambassador in Paris. She has not been replaced in The Hague, reportedly for financial reasons.
The current PLO office head, Yusuf Habbab, has a lower diplomatic ranking.
Because of its financial straits, the PLO recently moved its offices in The Hague to more modest premises than it previously occupied.
The PLO’s financial difficulties were incurred at the time the organization broke from most of the Arab world and threw its support behind Iraq in the events leading up to the 1991 Persian Gulf War and during the war.
As a result, the Arab states arrayed against Iraq withdrew their financial support from the PLO, which had been considerable.
In recent days, some of that aid is reportedly being reconsidered, but the PLO remains effectively strapped for cash.