Palestinian protesters accost U.S. diplomats during West Bank visit

The Associated Press reports:

A small crowd of Palestinian protesters accosted an American diplomatic delegation visiting the West Bank Tuesday, blocking a convoy of vehicles, chanting “shame on you” and hurling a shoe — a deeply insulting gesture in Arab culture.

The Americans, including employees of the consulate in Jerusalem, were on their way to a U.S. reception in town of Ramallah meant to reaffirm cultural and educational ties with the Palestinians.

But relations have grown strained recently, with Palestinians disappointed over President Barack Obama’s handling of Mideast peace efforts. They say he is not tough enough on Israel and are also upset over U.S. vows to block their attempt to receive full membership at the United Nations.

Members of Congress have already put a hold on $200 million in economic assistance to the Palestinians to dissuade them from pushing forward with the U.N. request. Officials have also hinted that aid could be cut altogether if the Palestinians proceed with their plans. The U.S. provides some $500 million a year to the Palestinians.

The activists involved in the demonstration, which was organized on Facebook, called for a boycott of the U.S. reception. They held banners reading, “No for the American funds,” ”Veto America” and “Obama, your vision is shortsighted.”

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