As tensions grow between the United States and Palestinian leaders, an envoy said Monday the Trump administration has revoked the travel visas for he and his family.
Palestinian Ambassador to the United States Husan Zomlot said the visas were valid until 2020, but have been abruptly revoked. He said the Palestinian diplomatic mission’s bank accounts had also been closed.
The action came just days after U.S. officials closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s diplomatic office in Washington, D.C.
Zomlot left the United States on Sunday and returned to the West Bank, Palestinian news outlet WAFA reported Monday.
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Zomlot said the revocations are a substantial departure from protocol.
“The State Department informed our colleagues, as part of the discussion on the closure, that the visas of my wife and children are dependent on the PLO delegation and as such will not be valid after the closure of the office and that if they wanted to stay they would have to change their immigration status,” Zomlot said. “This goes against diplomatic norms. Children, spouses and family have nothing to do with political rows.”
“As if the announcement that the U.S. would close our office in Washington, D.C., was not enough, this vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful,” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said in a statement. “By deliberately targeting the family of Ambassador Zomlot, the US administration has gone from cruel punishment to revenge against the Palestinians and their leadership even to the point of causing hardship to their innocent children and families.”
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The move would be the latest in a series of sanctions targeting Palestinian leaders, which were prompted by friction over the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May. Establishing the embassy in Jerusalem, which Palestine regards as its capital, was seen as a sign the United States is pro-Israel and not a neutral party in peace negotiations.
Last month, the United States cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides help for about 5 million Palestinians displaced from Israel. It also reduced economic aid to Palestine, used for programs in the West Bank and in Gaza, by $200 million. The aid package included $25 million earmarked for six hospitals in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian enclave.
The Trump administration has said the cutbacks are meant to force Palestine to the negotiating table, but Palestinians are wary of an unfavorable peace deal with Israel.