U.S. Rejects Top Palestinian Official Hanan Ashrawi's Visa Request

Ashrawi, who in the past met with U.S. presidents and senior officials, says no reason was given for refusal ■ State Department says it does not refuse visas based solely on political views if they are 'lawful in the United States'

FILE PHOTO: Dr. Hanan Ashrawi in her office in Ramallah, December 14, 2012.
Nir Kafri

WASHINGTON - Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a PLO Executive Committee member and a senior figure in the Palestinian public relations arena, announced Monday evening that her U.S. visa application has been rejected. 

"It is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given," she wrote in the first of a series of tweets, providing a list of reasons for her visa's refusal, which she told Haaretz was given without a reason. 

"Choose any of the following: I’m over 70 & a grandmother; I’ve been an activist for Palestine since the late 1960’s; I’ve always been an ardent supporter of nonviolent resistance," Ashrawi wrote

In response, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Haaretz that "Visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases."

The statement added that U.S. law "does not authorize the refusal of visas based solely on political statements or views if those statements or views would be lawful in the United States."

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Dr. Ashrawi, 70, rose to international recognition at the Madrid Conference of 1991, where she served as the spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation.

In her tweets, she lays out her diplomatic and educational credentials: "I’ve met (and even negotiated with) every Sec. of State since Shultz, and every President since George H. W. Bush (present administration excluded); I’ve been a vocal critic of this administration and its underlings; I believe in freedom of speech," she wrote.

"Most of all, I have no tolerance for the Israeli occupation in all its manifestations as a most pervasive form of oppression, dispossession and denial," she added. "I have no respect for the enablers of this inhuman condition nor for its apologists." She expresses her "sense of love and protectiveness for the people of Palestine wherever they may be."

In her last tweet, she declares herself "guilty of all of the above," and therefore undeserving of entering the United States in the eyes of the Trump administration. "I just hope someone can explain this to my grandchildren and all the rest of my family there."

Ashrawi has sparred publicly with U.S. President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, saying on Twitter on Sunday that he is a "self-appointed advocate/apologist for Israel".

In February, Greenblatt tweeted that Ashrawi was "always welcome" to meet him at the White House. A month later, after Ashrawi condemned Israeli military strikes in Hamas-ruled Gaza, he tweeted to her: "Stop hurting Palestinians w/bad judgment".

Last month, The U.S. government denied entry to co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement Omar Barghouti.

According to the U.S. State Department, whenever an individual applies for a U.S. visa, a consular officer reviews the facts of the case and determines whether the applicant is eligible for that visa based on U.S. law.