Palestinian Envoy in D.C. Says U.S. Revoked His and His Family's Visas, Ordered Them to Leave

Husam Zomlot says authorities revoked his and his family's visas and demanded they leave the country in what he describes as an attempt at revenge to placate Israel

File photo: Ambassador Dr. Husam Zomlot, Chief Representative of the Palestinian Delegation to the United States, speaking at the J Street National Conference.
Michael Brochstein / SOPA Images

The U.S. has revoked the visas of Palestinian Ambassador Husam Zomlot and his family following the decision to shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington, Zomlot told Palestinian news outlet Ma'an Sunday.

According to a a PLO statement, authorities told employees at the PLO office to cease all operations, close down all bank accounts, and to vacate the premises by October 13, according to the statement.

Zomlot said that authorities also shut his family's bank accounts and demanded that they immediately leave the U.S. He said the development was an attempt at revenge in order to placate Israel.

The White House told Haaretz that it was reviewing the matter.

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Zomlot's and his family's visas were revoked despite being valid until 2020, the statement said. The envoy has been in the West Bank for weeks after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recalled him in May to protest the Trump administration's decision to relocate the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"As if the announcement that the U.S. would close our office in Washington D.C. was not enough, this vindictive action by the Trump administration is spiteful," PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi was quoted as saying in the statement. "The U.S. has taken its attempts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinians to a new level."

The Trump administration announced last week that it was shutting down the PLO mission in Washington saying in a State Department statement that "the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel."

The State Department said that the PLO leadership had instead "condemned a U.S. peace plan they have not yet seen and refused to engage with the U.S. government with respect to peace efforts and otherwise."

The statement added that the decision was "also consistent with Administration and Congressional concerns with Palestinian attempts to prompt an investigation of Israel by the International Criminal Court."

In addition to this announcement, Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday that the U.S. will shield Israel from any attempts to investigate its actions by the International Criminal Court. "While the Court welcomes the membership of the so-called 'State of Palestine,' it has threatened Israel—a liberal, democratic nation—with investigation into its actions to defend citizens from terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Gaza", Bolton said.