WASHINGTON — Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III ordered the Justice Department on Wednesday to delay an announcement on the closing of the Palestine Liberation Organization's observer mission in New York after State Department officials and Arab-American groups strongly objected to the plan.
Meese, who was in Spain, told aides that no decision will be made until after he returns to Washington next week and that he plans further discussions with the White House on the controversial proposal, a department official said. The department had indicated earlier that an announcement was planned Wednesday.
The Justice Department and the State Department are at odds over the closing, which was mandated by Congress in the $8.3-billion bill authorizing the operations of the State Department and related agencies for fiscal 1988 and 1989.
Congress intended the measure as a slap at an organization linked to international terrorism, but the State Department has expressed concern that it might violate U.S. host country obligations to the United Nations. While the PLO office in Washington already has been shut down, the one in New York might be considered similar to the formal U.N. missions maintained by many countries there. Those missions are guaranteed freedom to operate without U.S. interference, some officials maintain.