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THE MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Grants PLO Another Six-Month Waiver

April 17, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration said Tuesday that it would allow the Palestine Liberation Organization to keep an office here for another six months, but it warned that the PLO could be kicked out and have funding cut if Yasser Arafat fails to crack down on terrorism.

The announcement by President Bush came as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell wrapped up his Middle East peacemaking mission. So far, Powell has been unable to clinch agreements on a cease-fire or an Israeli troop pullout from battle-scarred Palestinian cities.

In a memorandum to Powell, Bush said it was "important to the national security interests of the United States" to waive the provisions of a 1987 law that imposed restrictions on PLO activities.

The six-month waivers have been routine since 1994, after the PLO and Israel recognized each other. But Bush has come under increased pressure from pro-Israeli groups in the United States to punish the PLO and Arafat, its chairman, for a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings in the Jewish state.

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