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PLO slams US move to revoke Palestinian diplomat’s visa

Move comes hard on heels of US administration's closure of PLO’s Washington office

PLO slams US move to revoke Palestinian diplomat’s visa FILE PHOTO

RAMALLAH, Palestine

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee, slammed a recent decision by the U.S. administration to revoke the residency visas of a Palestinian diplomat and his family.

“As if the announcement that the U.S. would close our office in Washington D.C. was not enough, this vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful,” Ashrawi said in a Sunday statement carried by Palestine’s official Wafa news agency.

“The U.S. has taken its attempts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians to a new level,” she added.

Washington recently revoked the residency visa of Husam Zomlot, head of the PLO’s general delegation to the U.S., and those of his family, while also freezing the diplomat’s bank accounts.

The move came shortly after the U.S. administration announced the closure of the PLO's Washington office, which also serves as a Palestinian embassy.

“By deliberately targeting the family of Ambassador Zomlot, the U.S. administration has gone from cruel punishment to revenge against the Palestinians and their leadership -- even to the point of causing hardship to their innocent children and families,” Ashrawi said.

Such an “unconscionable move”, she added, “goes against all diplomatic protocol and constitutes an inhumane escalation on the part of the Trump administration to persist in its policy of pressure and extortion.”

What’s more, the U.S. recently cancelled all funding to the UN’s cash-strapped Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

The moves come as the U.S. administration prepares to unveil a controversial backchannel Mideast peace plan, details of which remain vague until now.

Palestinian officials, however, have rejected any U.S. role in the peace process since U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital last year.

Reporting by Jihad al-Nabhan; Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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