US refuses visas for Palestinians to UN meeting: ambassador

United Nations: Six Palestinian officials were denied visas by the United States to attend a high-level meeting on development at the United Nations in New York this week, the Palestinian ambassador said Wednesday.

The six officials from the Palestinian prime minister’s office were to present a report on Palestinian efforts to achieve 17 goals set out by the United Nations to end extreme poverty and promote education and health.

“The US consulate denied them visas and of course the Israeli occupying power complicated the matter,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, told reporters.

The United Nations is holding a political forum this week to take stock of efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals by the set deadline of 2030.

In the absence of the six officials, the ambassador made the presentation on behalf of Palestine, which has non-member observer status at the United Nations.

Mansour said he told the gathering that Palestinian authorities were “trying our best” to meet the goals but that the main hurdle in the way of development was “the negative effect of occupation” by Israel.

The ambassador said he planned to lodge a protest with a UN committee that oversees relations with the United States, the host-country of the United Nations.

The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Relations between the United States and the Palestinian leadership have nosedived since President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there.

The Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem the capital of their promised future state.

The Trump administration has also cut funds to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, leaving UNRWA struggling to fill a major budget gap for its education and health programs.

Agence France-Presse