U.S. consulate cancels visit to Nablus following Palestinian protests

The Palestinian Authority leadership has been boycotting US administration officials since President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

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July 19, 2018 22:45
2 minute read.
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US President Donald Trump (R) welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on May 3, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Palestinians boasted on Thursday that they had forced the US consulate-general in Jerusalem to cancel a visit by its officials to Nablus and the nearby town of Sebastiya.

The Palestinians said the visit of the US delegation was canceled following protests by various Palestinian factions and figures.

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The Palestinian Authority leadership has been boycotting US administration officials since President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Nasr Abu Jeish, a senior official with the Palestinian People’s Party, formerly the Palestinian Communist Party, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the visit to Nablus was called off after representatives of various Palestinian factions protested outside the Palestine Securities Exchange offices in Nablus.

The US delegation was scheduled to visit the offices of the Palestinian Securities Exchange in the city and tour Sebastiya.

Abu Jeish said the Palestinians were opposed to the visit because of the US administration’s “bias” in favor of Israel and “attempts to impose the ‘deal of the century’” on them, referring to Trump’s yet-to-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

Abu Jeish said that the Palestine Securities Exchange management was officially notified of the decision to cancel the visit.

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The ruling Fatah faction also voiced opposition to the visit of any representative of the US administration to the city.

“Receiving any representative of the US administration is rejected and is a deviation from the national will,” Fatah said in a statement.

It noted that Palestinians in Nablus had earlier this week staged a demonstration to protest against Trump’s unseen plan and “all conspiracies being concocted against the Palestinian cause.”

Fatah also warned that it would take “legal and popular action” against any Palestinian institution that defies the boycott of US administration officials.

Sebastiya Mayor Mohamed Azem was quoted on Thursday as saying that he has refused to receive a US consular delegation “in spite of pressure by American institutions over the past three days.”

He told the local Nablus TV station that he refuses to meet with any US official “as long as the policies of the US administration are biased in favor of the occupation.”

A spokeswoman for the US consulate-general in Jerusalem confirmed that the visit was canceled. “Out of concern for the safety of our staff and partners, the consulate-general canceled a scheduled outreach to Nablus and Sebastiya,” the spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post.

“The planned engagement was part of our ongoing commitment to improve cooperation and expand economic opportunities for Palestinians. The United States absolutely opposes the threat of violence and intimidation to express political views. We will continue to safely and effectively engage a wide variety of Palestinian partners toward our shared goals of greater economic growth and an enduring and sustainable peace.”

Earlier this year, Palestinian protesters disrupted a US-coordinated Palestinian workshop in Bethlehem, threw tomatoes at a US consular vehicle and damaged one of its mirrors.

Samir Hazboun, chairman of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, told Reuters that a digital marketing workshop was underway when about five protesters barged in. He said the organizers were forced to stop the workshops because of the incident.

In a similar incident last May, Palestinian protesters said they expelled an American delegation from a graduation ceremony in the town of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem. The protesters threw eggs at a convoy of vehicles belonging to the US consulate. No one was hurt.

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