US denies visa to senior Palestinian official
JERUSALEM (AP) — 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 contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and moved the embassy there. The U.S. responded with a series of punitive measures that have increasingly alienated Palestinians, from shuttering the U.S. consulate overseeing relations with Palestinians to slashing humanitarian aid to the West Bank and Gaza.
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.”