The U.S. does not refuse visas based solely on people’s political views or statements, a State Department official said.
By AP and United with Israel Staff
A senior Palestinian official said the United States denied her application for a visa to travel to the U.S. on Monday in what appears to be the latest sign of escalating American political pressure on Palestinians.
Hanan Ashrawi, a top official in the Palestine Liberation Organization and outspoken activist for Palestinian rights, told The Associated Press that she believed she was rejected for political reasons.
She said she had been invited to a series of speaking engagements at universities and think tanks in the U.S., and was also planning to visit relatives, including a daughter and grandchildren living there.
Educated in the U.S., Ashrawi, 72, said she has visited America many times and typically makes several visits a year. With her fluent English, she is a prominent Palestinian spokeswoman on TV and has met with top U.S. officials over the past three decades.
Asked whether her visa denial was political, she said: “Of course,” calling it “pettiness and vindictiveness.”
A State Department official declined to provide details about Ashrawi’s case, citing confidentiality requirements, but said the U.S. does not refuse visas based solely on people’s political views or statements.
The Palestinian Authority severed ties with the Trump administration after it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the embassy there.
Ashrawi has accused the Trump administration of racism, among other controversial statements slandering Israel and the U.S.
Last year, when John Bolton was named U.S. national security adviser, Ashrawi said that “with his appointment…the American administration has joined the extremist Zionists, the fundamentalist Christians and the racist white people,” as reported by the PA official daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.
In January, commenting on the as-yet-unreleased U.S. peace plan, Ashrawi said the American administration “has zero credibility.”
US Envoy to Ashrawi: ‘Let’s Not Pretend’
“Let’s be honest,” tweeted U.S. President Donald Trump’s top envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenblatt, “[and] not pretend recent U.S. decisions are the cause of the current situation [between Israel and the Palestinians] which has existed for decades.”
Greenblatt responded to Ashrawi further on social media, saying, “You may dislike our policies & decisions, but to say we have ‘zero credibility’ is simply not factual. [Trump] has kept his commitments, such as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our Embassy to Jerusalem.”
He continued, “Which do you think gives someone credibility — working to try to achieve peace or merely making political statements, which leads to nothing? You’re entitled to criticize our policies. But let’s not ignore the huge disservice being done to the Palestinians by refusing to engage.
“Peace is worth pursuing and we are committed to trying. You and other leaders can also work hard and see if it can be done. Or you can all continue to prevent the many significant benefits of peace by refusing to engage. The ball is in your court. Time to be credible leaders.”
In a series of tweets about the rejected visa, Ashrawi said: “I just hope someone can explain this to my grandchildren & all the rest of my family there.”
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