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US denies veteran Palestinian diplomat Hanan Ashrawi's travel visa

While the US did not give a reason, Ashrawi said she is being punished for criticising Israel and Donald Trump
Hanan Ashrawi is a veteran Palestinian negotiator and academic (AFP/File photo)

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian negotiator and academic, says the United States has denied her a travel visa to enter the country, a move she said was retaliation for her criticism of President Donald Trump and Israel.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Ashrawi said that the US did not provide a reason for the visa denial, but said she believed it was because of her "no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession & denial".

"This administration has decided I do not deserve to set foot in the US. I just hope someone can explain this to my grandchildren & all the rest of my family there," Ashrawi said.

A US State Department official did not comment directly on Ashrawi's case for reasons of confidentiality, Reuters reported.

The official told the news agency, however, that visas are not refused on the grounds of an applicant's politics if those political statements or views are lawful in the US.

While the US has always been a staunch backer of Israel, the Trump administration has sought to pressure Palestinians into accepting the so-called "Deal of the Century".

Since coming into office, Trump has cut funding to the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, recognised Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its undivided capital, and withdrew aid to the Palestinian Authority.

‘Deal of the century’ is a surrender note, and Palestinians will not sign
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Palestinian leaders have rejected US efforts to get them to agree to the deal, which is being promoted by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser on Middle East affairs.

For her part, Ashrawi has sparred publicly with Jason Greenblatt, a Trump envoy and one of the plan's architects, saying on Twitter on Sunday that he is a "self-appointed advocate/apologist for Israel".

In February, Greenblatt tweeted that Ashrawi was "always welcome" to meet him at the White House.

A month later, after Ashrawi condemned Israeli military strikes in Gaza, he tweeted to her: "Stop hurting Palestinians w/bad judgement".

Pressure on Palestinians

Speaking to Reuters, Ashrawi said she had applied for a B-1/B-2 visa, which is for either business or tourism travel to the US.

She described the rejection as a first for her. "Most of my life, I've been going back and forth, meeting people, speaking everywhere. This is new," she told the news agency.

"They [the Trump administration] are trying to punish us."

'Most of my life, I've been going back and forth, meeting people, speaking everywhere. This is new... They are trying to punish us'

- Hanan Ashrawi

Ashrawi also is not the only Palestinian leader barred from entering the US in recent weeks.

Last month, Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist and co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, said he was refused entry into the US despite hold a valid travel documents.

Barghouti was stopped at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on 10 April and told he would not be allowed to board his flight to the US, where he was expected to join a panel in Washington DC the following day.

The move, Barghouthi said at the time, was "ideologically and politically motivated".

"Israel is not merely continuing its decades-old system of military occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing; it is increasingly outsourcing its outrageous, McCarthyite repression to the US and to xenophobic, far-right cohorts across the world," he said.

US officials declined to respond to his allegations.

A US State Department spokesperson said, however, that the US does not deny visas "based solely on political statements or views".