Thursday, December 8, 2011

Palestine rep finds closed doors

Palestine rep finds closed doors

By Kevin Bogardus - 12/06/11 05:15 AM ET

Doors sometimes close when the ambassador for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) comes calling on Capitol Hill.

Maen Rashid Areikat, the PLO’s lone representative to the United States, says he fights an uphill battle to keep foreign aid flowing from the U.S. That means going toe to toe with one of the most effective lobbying forces in the nation’s capital: a collection of Jewish-American advocacy groups, led by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.

In an interview with The Hill, Areikat said he can’t always get an audience with lawmakers to discuss Palestinian issues. Some congressional offices won’t even let him through the door.

“This is really unfortunate. … You have to talk to a party that is very, very crucial,” Areikat said. “The Israelis are talking to us. Why wouldn’t these members of Congress talk to us?”

Lawmakers who have refused to meet with the ambassador include Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the House Appropriation State and Foreign Operations subcommittee, according to the PLO’s Washington office.

Ros-Lehtinen and Granger are the two most important House members for any foreign interest active in Washington, so their refusal to meet with Areikat is a significant obstacle....READ MORE

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