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Angered by Trump, Palestinian protesters disrupt business seminar US helped organise

Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce hosted US business expert

By Reuters - Jan 30,2018 - Last updated at Jan 30,2018

Palestinian activists disrupt a meeting between members of an American economic delegation and the head of the Bethlehem Chamber for Commerce and Industry in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Tuesday (AFP photo)

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Palestinians protesting against US President Donald Trump’s policy on occupied Jerusalem halted a US-coordinated Palestinian marketing workshop in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

Protesters threw tomatoes at the sports utility vehicle, which had US consular licence 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 organise, 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.

Commenting on the incident, a State Department spokesperson said: “The United States opposes the use of violence and intimidation to express political views. This non-political programme 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, organisers said.

Trump’s December 6 announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital overturned decades of US policy that its status should be decided in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

His declaration drew universal condemnation from Arab leaders, stirred Palestinian street protests and drew widespread international criticism.

On a visit to Israel last week, US 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.

Israel’s government regards Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the country, although that is not recognised internationally. Palestinians say East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, must be the capital of a state they seek in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 

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.

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