PA police rescue US delegation egged by protesters in Ramallah
Palestinians chant ‘America is the head of the snake’ as delegation of New York legislators and civil society groups drive by
In the second incident of its kind in recent weeks, a US delegation visiting the West Bank had to be rescued by Palestinian Authority policemen on Thursday after being attacked with eggs by Palestinian protesters.
The delegation included New York state legislators and civil society groups that were in Ramallah to meet with Palestinian Center for Policy and Research Survey (PCPRS), a local polling company.
“America is the head of the snake” and “Americans are not welcome in Palestine,” the protesters chanted as they tried to force their way into the offices of the center. Others chanted: “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” and carried placards denouncing both the US and Israel.
As the delegation members were being whisked out, some of the protesters threw eggs at them. No one was hurt.
PA anti-riot policemen, some of them wearing masks covering their faces, escorted the US guests to a police van that took them to a secure location.
The incident came amid mounting tensions between the Palestinians and the US administration, which began when President Donald Trump made his December 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Palestinian Authority officials have since been refusing to meet with representatives of the Trump administration.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has since also repeatedly accused the Trump administration of losing its status as an honest broker in any peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
Most of the protesters belonged a group called “The Committee for the Resistance against the Wall and Settlements.” Others described themselves as “anti-normalization” activists.
The “wall” is a reference to Israel’s security barrier, which was established in the West Bank to stop terror attacks during the Second Intifada.
#صور شبان فلسطينيون يرشقون وفدا من الكونغرس الأمريكي بالبيض والأحذية، في مدينة رام الله وسط الضفة الغربية المحتلة، احتجاجا على قرار الرئيس الأمريكي بشأن مدينة القدس. pic.twitter.com/W7ezZrgPvv
— وكالة شهاب للأنباء (@ShehabAgency) February 22, 2018
The activists said they were protesting Trump’s “hostile” policies toward the Palestinians, including his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They also accused the US administration of “conspiring” against the PA leadership.
Jamal Juma’ah, one of the leaders of the protest, said that he and his friends wanted to send a message to the Americans that they are “unwelcome in Palestine.”
Juma’ah accused the US administration of “publicly endorsing the Zionist project” because of Trump’s Jerusalem decision.
“There’s no place for Americans in Palestine,” he said. “This is the message of Palestinian youths and their popular committees to the Americans.”
He also warned PCPRS and other Palestinian institutions against hosting Americans.
“Any organization that works with or hosts Americans will be acting in violation of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership,” Juma’ah said, referring to recent decisions by the PA to boycott US officials, including US Vice President Mike Pence.
“These Americans came here to conspire against our people,” said another protester. “They came here to conspire against our legitimate [Palestinian Authority] leadership. When will they understand that Americans are unwelcome in Palestine?”
A senior PA police officer in Ramallah said, “While we respect people’s right to protest, it’s our duty to protect anyone who is in our areas.”
The State Department condemned the event.
“The United States absolutely opposes the use of violence or intimidation to express political views,” it said in a statement.
“This type of action is unmistakably counterproductive to Palestinian interests; it serves only to ensure that Americans are unable to hear or consider Palestinian perspectives.”
Last month, Palestinians attacked a US delegation visiting the Chamber of Commerce in Bethlehem, forcing its members to flee the city. No one was hurt in that incident either.
The US delegation had arrived in Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian businessmen as part of the cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and the US Consulate in Jerusalem.