JERUSALEM, July 23 (UPI) -- The United States has upgraded the diplomatic status of the Palestinian Authority in Washington to that of general delegation, authorities say.
The Palestinian Authority's mission will be allowed to fly the PLO flag at its Washington entrance and its diplomats will enjoy diplomatic immunity, Haaretz reported Friday.
Its status is lower than that of an embassy, but still an upgrade made with political intent and with full knowledge of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Jerusalem Post reported.
"This decision reflects our confidence that through direct negotiations, we can help achieve a two-state solution with an independent and viable Palestine living side by side with Israel," White House spokesman Thomas Vietor said. "We should begin preparing for that outcome now, as we continue to work with the Palestinian people on behalf of a better future."
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh urged the Palestinian Authority to make decisions "without the intervention of" the United States, which he said has been putting up hurdles to block achievement of Palestinian unity, the Ma'an news agency reported.
Speaking at a high school ceremony, Haniyeh said his Hamas government would endeavor to "cut off" Israel's intelligence efforts leading into the Strip, saying attempts to stifle them were ongoing.