New York lawmakers evacuated after Palestinian protesters storm building in Ramallah

A New York State Assembly delegation, on a mission to Israel this week, came under attack by Palestinian protesters while visiting Ramallah on Thursday. The group was mistakenly identified as an official U.S. delegation.

The group of lawmakers, led by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of New York, were meeting with Palestinian pollster and researcher Dr. Khalil Shikaki at the offices of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Research Survey (PCPRS) in Ramallah, when a group of protesters burst into the building, holding up signs, and chanting slogans including “Americans are not welcome in Palestine,” as they tried to make their way into the offices on the 4th floor, a member of the delegation told Jewish Insider.

As the crowd of protesters outside on the street grew, Palestinian security forces were alerted to manage the situation, according to David Pollock, JCRC’s Associate Executive Director, who spoke to Jewish Insider by phone after the incident.

The delegation remained safe in the office while the Palestinian Authority policemen cleared an exit path where the delegation boarded Palestinian security vans to get to an Israeli checkpoint. The vans themselves were pummeled with raw eggs and rocks. 

“There’s no place for Americans in Palestine,” Jamal Juma’ah, one of the leaders of the protest, told AFP, who mistakenly identified the delegation as a group of New York City Councilmembers. “This is the message of Palestinian youths and their popular committees to the Americans. Any organization that works with or hosts Americans will be acting in violation of the decisions of the Palestinian leadership,” Juma’ah was quoted as saying.

“We are grateful to JCRC-NY for bringing us on this mission and showing us a wide range of issues and opinions,” Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx) told Jewish Insider in an emailed statement. “As Americans, we realize the complexities of the Middle East and felt it important to get all relevant perspectives. Today’s incident highlighted those complexities and we are especially thankful to the Palestinian Authority security forces for their quick and professional response that ensured our safety.”

As Jewish Insider reported exclusively this morning, while the American visitors in Ramallah faced protestors, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was in the United States undergoing a medical procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.

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