Ted Cruz says PLO a ‘terrorist organization’

Palestinians slam ‘biased and inflammatory’ senate hearing, led by presidential hopeful, on US victims of Iranian and Palestinian terror

In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

WASHINGTON — The Palestine Liberation Organization on Thursday criticized Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz over a Senate hearing he oversaw on Palestinian and Iranian terrorism that it called “biased and inflammatory.”

In an unusual and harsh statement issued Thursday, the PLO said the Judiciary subcommittee hearing provided no Palestinian viewpoint and conflated all Palestinians with terrorists. The PLO expressed alarm at what it said was a growing trend in the United States to dehumanize Palestinians.

In response, Cruz said, “It is not surprising a terrorist organization like the PLO is upset with the truths that were told at our hearing yesterday.”

Cruz oversaw the Wednesday hearing titled, “Justice Forsaken: How the Federal Government Fails the American Victims of Iranian and Palestinian Terrorism,” in which several public witnesses described acts of violence and complained about the Obama administration, arguing that its Justice Department has failed to prosecute terrorists who have killed and injured Americans.

Cruz, the first-term senator from Texas, opened the hearing with a vivid description of a Palestinian suicide bomber attack on a Jerusalem street several years ago that killed and injured men, women and children.

Cruz spoke of “Americans who have suffered greatly because of the horrific actions of Iranian and Palestinian terrorists” and the recent surge of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel.

“As bad as Palestinian terrorism has been, the Iranian government has more American blood on its hands,” said Cruz, who reiterated his opposition to the recent international deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Among those who testified at the hearing was Kenneth J. Stethem, whose brother, Robert, was killed by Hezbollah terrorists during the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847.

“There has been no administration to date that has supported Iran and the Palestinian terrorist organizations more than the Obama administration,” Stethem said in his prepared testimony.

Kent A. Yalowitz, an attorney, said he represented 11 American families who were victims of individuals working at the behest of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.

“Far from disowning these terrorists, the PA and PLO have kept them on the payroll and promoted them,” Yalowitz said in his prepared testimony.

The PLO said the hearing failed to mention “recent acts of Israeli incitement,” including killings and collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

“If there is a party to be condemned for their actions, it is Israel, which continues to defy international law with impunity because of the blind support it receives from people like Senator Cruz and other senators,” the organization said. “It is time for Israel apologists on the Hill to put US national interests ahead of those of the current extreme right-wing government in Israel.”

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

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