Harris promises to reopen PLO mission in Washington

Harris also said she would oppose Jewish settlement expansion.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Just before the U.S. presidential election, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris promised that the Biden administration would take “immediate steps” to restore aid to the Palestinians, including reopening the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Washington, D.C.

Speaking to Arab American News, Harris said, “We will take immediate steps to restore economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, reopen the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem, and work to reopen the PLO mission in Washington.”

Harris’s decision to speak with the Dearborn, Michigan-based outlet is part of an effort to win over Arab American voters. Michigan is a battleground state with a heavy Arab presence.

“Joe and I also believe in the worth and value of every Palestinian and every Israeli and we will work to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis enjoy equal measures of freedom, security, prosperity and democracy,” she said.

Directly opposing Trump’s recent approval of building in Judea and Samaria, Harris said, “We are committed to a two-state solution, and we will oppose any unilateral steps that undermine that goal. We will also oppose annexation and settlement expansion.”

Harris’ words could be construed as a departure from statements on Biden’s site, which laud his “record of unstinting support for Israel.”

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“Joe Biden’s stalwart support for Israel and his commitment to protect Israel’s security and strengthen our two nations’ partnership is deeply personal and spans his entire career,” his site reads.

Harris’ promise to reopen the PLO mission in Washington D.C. is a direct reversal of a Trump administration policy.

In 2018, President Trump closed the PLO mission, citing the Palestinian Authority’s resistance to engage in negotiations with Israel.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said at the time, “We have permitted the PLO office to conduct operations that support the objective of achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between Israelis and the Palestinians.”

“However, the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

“The PLO has condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise,” read a State Department statement on the closure.

While Israel regards the PLO as a terrorist organization, PLO missions act as de-facto Palestinian embassies and represent Palestinian Authority interests in countries across the world.