Sunday, December 16, 2018

US denies PA officials entry to UN meeting


By Marc Henry - July 25, 2018
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Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [US foreign policy] [denied entry]

Six Palestinian Authority (PA) officials were denied visas by the US to attend a high-level meeting at the United Nations (UN) in New York, PA representatives said. 

The six officials from the PA cabinet chief’s office were to present a report on Palestinian efforts to achieve 17 goals set out by the United Nations to end extreme poverty, promote education and health as well as preserve the environment.
 
The high-level meeting is hearing what nearly 50 countries are doing to implement the 17 UN goals by 2030. However, the six Palestinian experts were not allowed to the meeting.
 
“The US consulate denied them visas, and of course the Israeli occupying power complicated the matter,” Riyad Mansour, ambassador and PA representative to the UN told reporters. According to Mansour, Israel refused to allow several of the experts to go to Jerusalem to check on their visas.
 
In the absence of the six officials, the ambassador made the presentation on behalf of Palestine.
 
According to Mansour, he told the gathering that Palestinian authorities were “trying our” best to meet the goals but that “the negative effect of occupation” by Israel was the main hurdle in the way of development.
 
According to Mansour, his team “were able to improvise” and presented the Palestinian report on Tuesday last week, July 17, receiving “a long applause from the participants.”
In his speech, Mansour said that in spite of the negative effect of occupation by Israel Palestine “we almost have 100 per cent of education for our kids, our illiteracy is close to zero, there’s improvement in the medical field, but there’s needs and challenges.”
 
According to the ambassador, the Palestinians need more hospitals, more schools in east Jerusalem and more housing.
 
“In terms of food security, we don’t have people who are starving although 1.2 million of the population in the Gaza Strip rely on food program assistance and help from UNRWA,” Mansour said.
 
The ambassador also revealed that he planned to send a letter of protest to the General Assembly committee dealing with host country relations and added that the action violates the UN agreement with the US as host country, as it requires the US to allow delegates to attend the meetings.
 
The US Mission said it is looking into the complaint.
 
In November 2012 the General Assembly voted to upgrade the Palestinians’ status from a UN observer to a non-voting observer state, enabling it to make a voluntary report.
 
However, relations between the US and PA representatives have been complicated since President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the embassy there.
 
PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas has refused to consider the Trump administration an honest broker for peace negotiations with Israel since Trump’s move regarding Jerusalem.
 
Furthermore, the Trump administration has also cut funds to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, with UNRWA struggling to fill a significant budget gap for its education and health programs.
 

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