The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem refused to receive a letter from Hamas officials who Israel threatens to expel from the holy city, a Hamas official said Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
Khaled Abu Arafa, minister of Jerusalem affairs in the former Hamas-led Palestinian government, said he and two of his colleagues, members of the Hamas-dominated parliament, visited the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem to submit a letter, asking the U.S. administration to press Israel to cancel the expulsion order against the three.
"Staff of the consulate claimed that there is no representative authorized officially to receive the letter," Abu Arafa told Xinhua.
In May, Israel ordered four Hamas lawmakers, including Abu Arafa, to leave Jerusalem within a month for running in the Palestinian elections on the list of the Islamic Hamas movement.
In July, Israel detained Mohammed Abu Tair, one of the four legislators, and accused him of staying illegally in Jerusalem. Since then, the remaining three officials have protested in a tent pitched in front of the ICRC headquarters in East Jerusalem.
Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006 and formed the 10th Palestinian government, but the United States led an international campaign to isolate Hamas administration for refusing to recognize Israel and make peace with it. In 2007, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced the Hamas government was illegal after the Islamic movement routed his forces and took over the Gaza Strip.