US delegation flees Bethlehem as Palestinian protesters storm workshop
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One protest sign reads: 'Zionism = Nazism = Fascism'

US delegation flees Bethlehem as Palestinian protesters storm workshop

Angry demonstrators slam Trump's Jerusalem move; kick and throw tomatoes at vehicle with US consular license plates, damage side mirror

Palestinian activists disrupt a meeting between members of an American economic delegation and the Head of the Bethlehem Chamber for Commerce and Industry in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer)
Palestinian activists disrupt a meeting between members of an American economic delegation and the Head of the Bethlehem Chamber for Commerce and Industry in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer)

A delegation of US diplomats had to cut short an event in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Tuesday, an attendee said, after protesters stormed their meeting.

The protesters, who were objecting to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also kicked and threw tomatoes at the delegation’s car as they left, a video posted online showed.

Some five protesters kicked one of the doors of the car, which had US consular license plates, and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror, Reuters reported.

The American diplomats had been invited by city officials to give a workshop on doing business over the internet.

A Palestinian activist throws a tomato at a vehicle transporting members of an American economic delegation that are meeting with the Head of the Bethlehem Chamber for Commerce and Industry alongside Palestinian businessmen in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on January 30, 2018. (AFP PHOTO/Musa AL SHAER)

Samir Hazboun, head of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, said the group had been holding a training session for local businesspeople about digital commerce with an American expert and a delegation from the US consulate in Jerusalem.

“We were surprised when a number of angry protesters held an extraordinary protest, which forced us to end the course and for the American trainer to leave immediately with the American consulate delegation,” he told AFP.

The video showed a handful of protesters entering the room and chanting while holding signs opposing Trump’s decision.

One sign read “Zionism = Nazism = Fascism. USA=ISIS=Terror.” Among the chants was the call for “America out.”

The American delegation quickly packed up and left, with the protesters throwing what appeared to be tomatoes at their cars, while one man kicked a car.

The US Consulate in Jerusalem declined comment.

A Palestinian kicks a SUV carrying members of an American economic delegation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on January 30, 2018. (AFP Photo/Musa Al-Shaer)

Palestinians froze ties with Washington following Trump’s December 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The US has reacted to the boycott by freezing payments worth $100 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) earlier this month, and the White House and Congress are threatening to further cut aid to the Palestinians.

The declaration saw a spike in violent protests in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. There has also been a surge in rocket attacks from Gaza, and Hamas, the terror group which rules Gaza and seeks to destroy Israel, has called for a new intifada to liberate Jerusalem and urged Palestinians to confront soldiers and settlers.

The Central Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PCC) — the second-highest decision-making body for Palestinians — recently voted to officially declare the US no longer fit to be the sole sponsor of peace talks.

مخيم عايدة: تنفيذ حكم الإعدام بمجسمي لترامب ونائبه للتعبير عن رفض تقليصات الاونروا

Posted by ‎وكالة وطن للانباء‎ on Saturday, 27 January 2018

Near Bethlehem last weekend, Palestinians carried out a mock-execution of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Effigies of the US leaders were hanged and then burned in a street in the Aida refugee camp north of Bethlehem. The incident was broadcast on a Palestinian TV stration.

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