WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with prominent Palestinian rights activist Issa Amro during the U.S. delegation's visit to Ramallah on Tuesday.
Amro said he told Blinken and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr that nothing would change if the United States does not hold Israel accountable, urging Blinken to nix the $735 million arms sale to Israel.
Amro added that he told Blinken that U.S. policy under former U.S. President Donald Trump made life more difficult for Palestinians. He implored Blinken to visit Sheikh Jarrah, Gaza and Hebron to see what life looks like for everyday Palestinians, and called on the administration to have direct contact with Palestinians inside Israel.
The Palestinian activist has been repeatedly arrested by both the Israeli military and Palestinian security forces in the course of his activism. An Israeli military court convicted him in January of protesting without a permit, obstructing Israeli soldiers' activities in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron and assaulting a Jewish settler, in a case that Amnesty International described as politically motivated.
Amro, 40, founded an activist group that regularly protests against settlement construction in Hebron. Around 1,000 Jewish settlers live there under heavy Israeli military protection among 200,000 Palestinians. Amro previously met with Sen. Bernie Sanders and members of Congress during a visit to Washington in 2017.
He was among several Palestinian civil society leaders with whom Blinken met Tuesday at the offices of the AMIDEAST organization in Ramallah, where the secretary of state told them: "One of the main purposes of my travel here at President Biden’s request is to renew ties between the United States and the Palestinian people, and to build on those ties going forward. One critical aspect of any democratic society is civil society, and that’s why I’m particularly anxious to have a chance to talk to you. Your voices, your experience, your insight, your advocacy I think are all critical components for the future."