Israeli security forces stand guard outside the US consulate in Jerusalem, on May 13, 2018, adjacent to the 'Diplomat Hotel' which will host the new US embassy. (Ahmad Gharabali/AFP/Getty Images)

Palestinians Shun US Embassy Events

Second activity this month canceled due to public pressure

After widespread pressure from the Palestinian public, the United States Embassy in Jerusalem has canceled a meeting that was scheduled to take place in Ramallah between Palestinian business people and the embassy’s commercial attaché. It is the second activity to be canceled in August.

Amr Osama, the head of the Palestinian Businessmen Association, told The Media Line that he apologized for scheduling the meeting, saying he should not have done so, “because of the unfair American policies and position against the Palestinian cause and people.

“The private sector is a national sector too; we care about the country and what’s best for its people,” Osama said. “Especially because there is huge American pressure to bypass the Palestinian leadership and isolate it.”

Earlier this month, the US Embassy had to cancel a youth conference organized by the US-Palestinian Affairs Unit, which was created as part of the US mission after it was moved to Jerusalem.

The conference was planned for Palestinian alumni of US educational and cultural programs, and was supposed to discuss “the situation of youth in the Palestinian territories.”

When reached by The Media Line, the American Embassy refused to comment on the latest cancellation, but said the youth conference had only been rescheduled, with “a new date to be determined.”

“In order to avoid the Palestinian participants being put in a difficult situation, we decided to postpone the event for now,” an embassy spokesperson said. “This and other public affairs activities supported by the US-Palestinian Affairs Unit are designed to create opportunities for exchange and dialogue between Americans and Palestinians at the grassroots level.”

Osama Qwasme, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction, told The Media Line that, “Palestinian business people, like all segments of Palestinian society, have one united position.

“The cancellation of the American Embassy activities shows the Palestinian street rejects the so-called economic solution instead of a political one,” Qwasme said, referring to the Trump Administration’s decision to begin its peace push by first presenting an economic plan rather than a political one.

He said that the White House “has to realize that it can’t hold any of these meetings or activities until it changes its hostile position against the Palestinian people.”

In reaction to American efforts to engage with the Palestinian people, rather than the government, the National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah and al-Bireh, which represents all Palestinian factions, as well as social committees, has targeted such activities and forced their cancellation.

Issam Abu Baker, coordinator of the National and Islamic Forces, told The Media Line that he considers the continuation of efforts by the US to hold meetings in the name of economy and development shows “an extreme rudeness by the American settler [a derogatory term used to describe Jews living in the West Bank] US ambassador [David Friedman].

“These kinds of meetings and activities are out of our national standards,” Abu Baker said. “We refuse any effort to create new alternatives away from our legitimate frame. We continue to boycott the American administration for its biased position against the Palestinian people.

“Under the current circumstances,” he continued, “we don’t communicate with the American administration, which failed in all of its attempts to bypass the Palestinian leadership.”

Abu Baker stressed that his organization will continue to oppose any Palestinian participation in activities organized by the US Embassy or any American institution that “supports the [Israeli] occupation and the US policies that deny the rights of the Palestinian people. Whoever participates will be undermining national responsibility.

“While the United States is de-listing Palestine from official US websites,” he noted, “it attempts direct and indirect endeavors to liquidate the national cause through the so-called ‘deal of the century’,” a term denoting the Trump peace plan.

Palestinian-American relations have been tense since December 2017, when the PA imposed a diplomatic boycott on the US administration in protest of its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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