Palestinians shun U.S. consular events after widespread protests
Latest meeting initiated by the American embassy in Jerusalem was meant to bring together Palestinian businessmen and embassy’s commercial attaché, but had to be canceled due to public uproar over 'unfair American policies toward Palestinian cause'
It is the second activity to be canceled in August after the embassy was forced to postpone a conference it organized in the West Bank city of Ramallah last Monday due to Palestinian protests.
Amr Osama, the head of the Palestinian Businessmen Association, said 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 U.S. Embassy had to cancel a youth conference organized by the U.S.-Palestinian Affairs Unit, which was created as part of the U.S. mission after it was moved to Jerusalem.
The conference was planned for Palestinian alumni of U.S. educational and cultural programs and was supposed to discuss "the situation of youth in the Palestinian territories."
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 U.S.-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, said “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 decision to begin its peace push by first presenting an economic plan rather than a political one.
"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," said Qwasme.
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, said that he considers the continuation of efforts by the U.S. to hold meetings in the name of economy and development shows “an extreme rudeness by the American settler U.S. 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 U.S. Embassy or any American institution that “supports the (Israeli) occupation and the U.S. 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 U.S. websites," he said, "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 tensing since December 2017, when the PA imposed a diplomatic boycott on the U.S. administration in protest of its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Written by Dima Abumaria. Reprinted with permission of The Media Line