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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 November 2018

UK welcomes Palestinian ambassador expelled by Donald Trump

Husam Zomlot assumes the post after the US closed its Palestinian mission

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to Great Britain, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Washington, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to Great Britain, speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Washington, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Britain’s Minister for the Middle East has welcomed the new Palestinian Ambassador to London, weeks after he was expelled from Washington.

Husam Zomlot was head of the Palestinian mission in Washington DC until last month when the diplomatic mission was shut down by President Donald Trump. In an unprecedented step, Dr Zomlot’s visa was revoked, as were the visas of his wife and two young children.

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East tweeted on Thursday: “A warm welcome to Dr Husam Zomlot as new Head of the Palestinian Mission to the UK. We’ll be working together to further the relationship between the British and Palestinian people, strengthen cooperation, and continue efforts towards a two-state solution and a lasting peace."

Dr Zomlot's expulsion from the US was the latest in a string of diplomatic actions taken against the Palestinians by the Trump administration. Last month, President Trump announced a halt to US funding for UNRWA, the UN agency devoted to assisting millions of Palestinian refugees. Earlier this year, the US moved its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, a decision critics suggested would put an end to the two state peace process, as the Palestinians have long claimed East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

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Dr Zomlot replaces Manuel Hassassian, an academic who headed the Palestinian mission in the UK for almost 13 years.

Born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Dr Zomlot won a Chevening scholarship to study at the London School of Economics. He served as a diplomat at the Palestinian mission in London before going on to study at Harvard University.

In an interview on his first day in office earlier this month, Dr Zomlot said the UK should step up and fill the global leadership role vacated by the US. "Best friends are there to fill the vacuum. If the vacuum is going to be dangerous for your old friend which is America, fill it. This is a moment of leadership," he told Sky News.