Palestinian Protesters Disrupt US-Organized Business Seminar in Bethlehem, Damage Diplomatic Vehicle
Palestinians protesting against President Donald Trump’s policy on Jerusalem halted a US-coordinated Palestinian marketing workshop in the West Bank on Tuesday, damaging an American diplomatic vehicle as it sped away.
Protesters threw tomatoes at the sports utility vehicle, which had US consular license plates. They also kicked one of its doors and ripped the plastic casing off a side mirror as it drove off under Palestinian police escort from the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce.
Samir Hazboun, the chamber’s director, told Reuters that a digital marketing workshop, which the US Consulate in Jerusalem helped to organize, was under way when about five protesters barged in.
“We hosted an American expert on this issue. Some people who have been trying to express their point of view and protest (against) the American decision regarding Jerusalem and the political situation … interrupted the workshop and we stopped the workshop,” Hazboun said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ office condemned the incident in a statement in which it emphasized “its absolute rejection of such behavior, which contradicts Palestinian manners and norms.”
Commenting on what took place, a State Department spokesperson said: “The United States opposes the use of violence and intimidation to express political views. This non-political program was one part of long-term US engagement to create economic opportunities for Palestinians.”
The US-based lecturer was not a consular staff member. He was accompanied by consular security personnel and some of its Palestinian employees, organizers said.
Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders, stirred Palestinian street protests and prompted widespread international criticism.
On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump’s promised relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would take place by the end of 2019. Palestinians boycotted Pence’s visit.
In the Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem on Saturday, effigies of Trump and Pence were hanged and burned in a protest attended by about 30 Palestinians.