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US refused visa to Palestinian officials attending UN meeting

Palestinian representative to the UN Riyad Mansour attends the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, United States on December 23, 2016 [Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian representative to the UN Riyad Mansour attends the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, United States [Volkan Furuncu / Anadolu Agency]

Six Palestinian officials who were scheduled to give a presentation at the UN office in New York have been denied visas by the US without any explanation. The officials were due to attend a high-level meeting on development yesterday to present a report on Palestinian implementation of UN goals for 2030.

In their absence, Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour had to step in and make the presentation on behalf of Palestine, which has non-member observer status at the United Nations.

Mansour broke the news to reporters and said that “the Israeli occupying power complicated the matter” by refusing to allow several of the experts to go to Jerusalem to check on their visas.

Mansour said that as the host country the US has violated the UN agreement by refusing entry to a delegation from one of the members of the world body. It’s reported that he will send a letter of protest to the General Assembly committee dealing with host country relations.

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In the absence of his colleagues Mansour informed the UN that the Palestinian Authority was “trying [our] best” to meet the 17 goals to end extreme poverty in Palestine but their task was hampered by the Israeli occupation.

The US is reported to be looking into the complaint. In the meantime, this incident will be judged as another example of its hostility towards the Palestinians. Relations began to sour dramatically after President Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there.

The Trump administration has also cut funds to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, leaving UNRWA struggling to fill a major budget gap for its education and health programs

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