Palestinian protesters target U.S. delegation in Bethlehem

Protesters threw tomatoes at a sports utility vehicle, which had US consular license plates, kicked one of its doors and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror.

Palestinian protesters disrupt business seminar in Bethlehem. (REUTERS)
A group of Palestinians protesting US President Donald Trump’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict broke up a digital marketing workshop at the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that the American Consulate in Jerusalem helped to organize.
In early December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the city, breaking with decades of American policy and infuriating many Palestinians.
Samir Hazboun, the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce director, said that the digital marketing workshop was underway when about five protesters barged in.
“We hosted an American expert on this issue. Some people who have been trying to express their point of view and protest the American decision regarding Jerusalem and the political situation... interrupted the workshop and we stopped the workshop,” Hazboun said.
In addition to the American digital marketing expert, staff from the US Consulate were also present at the event.
Videos shared on Facebook show the Americans leaving the workshop immediately after the protesters entered the Chamber of Commerce.
As the Americans walked out of the building, one protester shouted: “You are not welcome anymore. Go out,” while another protester yelled, “No to American policy!”
Minutes later, the protesters pelted tomatoes at the cars transporting the Americans and damaged one of their side mirrors.
A State Department representative criticized the protesters, saying: “Though no one was hurt, the objective was clearly intimidation. The United States absolutely opposes the use of violence and intimidation to express political views.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office condemned the protesters for what it called an “assault” on the Americans in Bethlehem.
“The president’s office affirms its complete rejection of such behavior, which is immoral and against Palestinian principles,” Abbas’s office said in a statement published on the official PA news site Wafa.
On Saturday, a group of protesters at the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem hanged and burned effigies of Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence.
Reuters contributed to this story.