Prominent Grassroots Palestinian Activist Met With Blinken in Ramallah; Called For Ending Arms Sales To Israel

Ramallah, Occupied West Bank

Prominent Grassroots Palestinian activist Issa Amro met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Deputy Assistance Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr Tuesday in Ramallah. In the meeting, which was with members of Palestinian civil society, Amro asked the Secretary of State to end unquestioned U.S. financial and diplomatic support for Israel. “I told him that without making Israel’s occupation costly, nothing will change,” Amro said. “It is a one-state reality of apartheid.”

“After decades of occupation, it’s good that @SecBlinken & @HadyAmr meet w/Palestinian civil society, Amro wrote on Twitter after the meeting. “I was happy to welcome them. I hope they meet w/youth in #SheikhJarrah & next time come to Hebron & see the daily reality of apartheid. The US shouldn’t fund human rights abuses.” Amro said the meeting with Blinken was productive and described Blinken and Amr as compassionate and concerned.

Amro cited a recent report by B’tselem and Human Rights Watch and asked Blinken to have the U.S. administration use the word ‘apartheid’ in reference to Israel. “We want political relations between the U.S. and the Palestinians, not only security relations,” Amro said. He requested PLO mission, closed under Donald Trump, be reopened in Washington, D.C., that Washington pressure the PA and Israel to have Palestinian elections be held in Jerusalem, and urged Blinken to visit the families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, the Gaza strip, and the West Bank city of Hebron where Amro lives and Israeli apartheid is blatantly on display.

The meeting with Amro was part of Blinken’s first official visit to the region during which he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah III, and Egypt’s Sissi in wake of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. The meeting occurred as the U.S. is trying to push through a $735 million sale of precision-guided arms to Israel despite Israel having just carried on an attack on the Gaza strip that took the lives of around 150 people, about a fourth of them children. The meeting between Blinken and Amro took place on the same day that it was revealed that the U.S. State Department had bypassed congressional opposition to the weapons sale and gone ahead with granting an export license to weapons manufacturer Boeing for the sale of Joint Direct Attack Munitions and Small Diameter Bombs—two of the laser-guided munitions that were reportedly used by Israel in the 11-day attack on the Gaza Strip that ended on Friday with a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

In 2016, Amro was indicted and tried by Israel for his nonviolent protests. In 2017, Amro was arrested and jailed by the Palestinian Authority for criticizing Mahmoud Abbas on social media.

Issa Amro is a recognized Human Rights Defender and the co-founder of the Hebron-based grassroots protest organization Youth Against Settlements. Amnesty International called the charges against Amro “baseless” and “politically-motivated.”  In 2010, Amro was declared “Human Rights Defender of the year in Palestine” by the UN OHCHR. he was a guest of the U.S. State Department. His human rights work has been formally recognized by the European Union.