Senior Palestinian official Dr Hanan Ashrawi has been denied a visa to visit the US despite being personally invited to the White House. Picture: Mel Frykberg/ANA

Ramallah - Senior Palestinian official Dr Hanan Ashrawi has been denied a visa to visit the US despite being personally invited to the White House by President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy only months ago.

Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation organisation (PLO) Executive Committee member who visited South Africa last year, reported that her visa had been rejected for the first time in decades despite the Middle East envoy asking her to speak in person at the White House about the forthcoming US peace plan for the region which is due to be officially unveiled at the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadaan.

"It is official! My US visa application has been rejected. No reason given," she wrote in the first of a series of tweets, providing a list of reasons for her visa's refusal, which she said has not been explained to her by US officials.

A US State Department spokesperson, however, denied that American law authorised the refusal of visas based solely on political statement or views.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which nominally controls the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and of which Ashrawi is a member has had several political run-ins with Washington in the last few months.

The PA has been refusing to engage with the Trump administration on any level since December 2017, when Trump announced his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The organisation has also accused the Americans of pro-Israel bias as well as denouncing the new Mideast peace plan which is said to ignore Palestinian aspirations for an independent state while focusing solely on Israel’s interests, according to critics.

African News Agency (ANA)