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US imposes media restrictions on Palestine FM as visa condition, Saudi FM confirms

December 10, 2023 at 9:12 am

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister, Riyad al-Maliki in Ramallah, West Bank on 24 June, 2023 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency )

The United States imposed restrictions on Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki’s communication with the media as a precondition for his visa to the country, according to reports seemingly confirmed by his Saudi counterpart.

In a press conference in the American capital Washington yesterday, in which the foreign ministers from a number of Middle Eastern nations addressed reporters, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan revealed that US authorities restricted his Palestinian counterpart al-Maliki from speaking to reporters and media representatives.

“The US government has imposed restrictions on his Excellency that does not allow him to respond to media questions or to engage with the media”, bin Farhan said. When a reporter – Yunus Paksoy from CNN Turk and Hürriyet – asked “what happens if he talks?”, the Saudi minister reportedly replied that “there will be sanctions”.

READ: Failure of UN Security Council to stop massacres in Gaza ‘inexcusable’: Palestine

Following the press conference and the remarks made, further reports emerged claiming that Washington and the administration of president Joe Biden restricted his communication with the media as a precondition for the issuing of his visa.

The US State Department has since denied that any such restrictions were imposed, however, with spokesperson Matthew Miller stating that “Visa records are confidential under US law, so we cannot discuss the details of any individual visa case, but United States immigration law does not include any provisions that prohibit individuals from speaking to the press, and we have imposed no restrictions that prohibit individuals from speaking to the press”.

Although the reports of al-Maliki’s restrictions have not yet been verified, the confirmation by bin Farhan is perceived by some as enough of a verification. If true, it raises significant questions and criticism by many as to why the Palestinian foreign minister would be subject to sanctions for speaking to the media while Israel is able to commit war crimes in its bombardment and invasion of Gaza without consequences or condemnation from the US.