Palestinians rallied Tuesday against US diplomats who were visiting the occupied West Bank, shouting slogans outside a restaurant, onlookers said.
Police kept the protesters away from the Ramallah restaurant where diplomats were hosting an event for graduates and other beneficiaries of US programs, a Ma’an correspondent said.
About 20 activists watched by the police had chanted defiant slogans in English, shouting “No to American funding” and “Yes we can — boycott America”, Reuters reported.
Demonstrators also chanted “USAID go home”, and “Shame on you”. One man hurled his shoe.
Palestinian Authority police denied intervening in the demonstration, which they said was peaceful. In a statement, the police also denied that protesters had thrown shoes at the diplomats.
The protest comes as US Congress members opposed to a bid for statehood at the United Nations are threatening to freeze aid on economic and humanitarian projects deemed vital for peace in the Middle East.
Palestinian Authority officials say the freeze on money mixes politics with practical efforts to build peace with Israel and establish a Palestinian state.
The PA cabinet, in a statement issued after its weekly meeting Tuesday, “expressed hope that the US Congress would reconsider the freezing of aid allocated to the Palestinian National Authority”.
Projects under way with USAID for the past three years include a five-year development of the health sector, training medical and administrative staffers, rehabilitating hospitals and equipping them.
“We refuse any American intereference in Palestinian issues and we refuse US funding and we demand that Palestinian organization cut off relations with American organizations,” demonstrator Arij Hlele said.
US President Barack Obama is lobbying Congress to unblock the aid, although he has also warned Ramallah that seeking statehood via a UN vote cannot be a substitute for a negotiated peace treaty with Israel.
President Mahmoud Abbas last month submitted a formal application to the UN Security Council for recognition of Palestinian statehood, ignoring a US threat to veto the measure if it is put to vote.
The PLO says Obama’s veto threat was a clear indication that Washington was not a genuine “honest broker” in diplomatic efforts to resolve the 63-year-old Middle East conflict.