Abbas: UK stalling on visa for incoming PLO ambassador

Erekat, who is currently leaving his diplomatic posting in Washington, D.C., is expected to arrive in London in the coming weeks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Paris Agreement on climate change at UN headquarters in New York (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Paris Agreement on climate change at UN headquarters in New York
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The UK is holding off from granting incoming-PLO ambassador Maen Erekat a diplomatic visa, the PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.
“The British are trying to move backwards and set forth limits and obstacles, but we are saying that we want them... to treat the new ambassador as they do the [current] ambassador,” he told the pan-Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi in a wide-ranging interview.
Britain upgraded the status of the PLO representative office in London to a diplomatic mission in 2011, which granted Palestinian officials in the United Kingdom the status of foreign diplomats. Current PLO Ambassador Manuel Hassassian holds a diplomatic visa.
Abbas said if London does not grant Erekat a diplomatic visa, the Palestinian leadership will not hesitate to respond.
“Such a move indicates bad intentions and misconduct from Britain and we will have a position and a response,” the 82-year-old leader stated, without elaborating. “We are calling and will continue to call for fair treatment.”
The UK consulate in Jerusalem had no response on the matter.
Britain and the Palestinian leadership have ongoing diplomatic ties, but some tensions between the two have emerged since Abbas demanded at the 27th Arab League Summit in Mauritania last year that the UK apologize for issuing the Balfour Declaration.
In interviews and speeches, Abbas has frequently reiterated his demand for an apology from the British government.
“Britain should... apologize to the Palestinian people for this historic injustice done against them, and also recognize the state of Palestine,” Abbas told the 28th Arab League Summit in Jordan last week.
Erekat, who is currently based in Washington, is expected to arrive in London in the coming weeks.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.