Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said on Monday that she was refused a visa to the US, amid growing tensions over President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” Israel-Palestine peace plan, expected to be released next month.
Ashrawi, a long-time aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, announced on Twitter that she had been denied a visa without any justification been given by US authorities.
“I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of non-violent resistance,” said Ashrawi.
“I’ve met (& even negotiated with) every [secretary of state] since (George) Shultz, and every president since George HW Bush (present administration excluded).”
She added that she had been a “vocal critic” of Trump’s administration.
Ashrawi, talking to AP, claimed the decision was political and “vindictive”.
A US State Department official told Reuters that visa denials were never motivated solely by political statements “if those statements or views if those statements or views would be lawful in the United States”.
Ashrawi is a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) executive committee and a former minister in the Palestinian Authority.
She is also a veteran of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
Tensions between Palestinians and the US have risen since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
Both Palestinians and Israelis claim Jerusalem as their capital.
Although Jerusalem is divided, with the west going to Israel and the east to Palestine, Israel has occupied the whole city since 1967 and has subsumed Palestinian areas into Israel proper.
Trump’s recognition in March of the Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights has also strained relations.
His administration is expected to release its long-anticipated peace plan for the region next month.
Numerous purported leaks rumour the plan to be heavily biased towards Israeli interests.
Ashrawi has not previously been denied a visa to the US, where he daughter and grandchildren live.
“I travel there at least three or four times a year,” she told AFP.
Former US Ambassador to Israel and Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk slammed the decision to refuse Ashrawi’s visa.
“Seriously? It’s hard not to conclude that this is yet another punitive action towards the Palestinian Authority,” he said in a tweet on Monday.
“How can this approach possibly serve the interests of peacemaking?”
Omar Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian backer of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, was also barred entry from the US last month.