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Thousands of Palestinians rally for statehood in the West Bank

Published yesterday (updated) 21/09/2011 21:36

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) –

Thousands rallied Wednesday across the occupied West Bank, as Palestinians called on the United States to back down from its threats to veto Palestine's bid for membership in the UN.

Palestinians in Ramallah held signs and banners in anticipation of a UN initiative to seek recognition of statehood from the UN Security Council, in defiance of pressure from Israel and the United States.

President Mahmoud Abbas says he is determined to press ahead with plans to submit a formal application to UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Friday, while diplomatic sources say he is weighing an offer to delay the bid.

Celebrations began early in Ramallah as scouts, students, civil servants and representatives of national factions visited the tomb of late president Yasser Arafat before they began marching to a central square.

The renowned PLO band Al-Asheqeen performed for an audience of thousands.

In Bethlehem, police officials offered an initial estimate of 3,000 participants in a large rally held outside the Nativity Church, the traditional site of the birth of Jesus. Local clergy were among the speakers.

The largest rally was in Hebron, a Ma'an correspondent reported.

The crowd covered an area of 2.5 kilometers between the square in the city center and the Al-Haras quarter. The main celebrations, he added, were held in front of the municipality offices.

In Nablus, thousands gathered in the city center while 30 activists from the anti-Zionist Jewish group Neturei Karta joined the celebrations showing support for the Palestinian UN bid.

Fatah leader Mahmoud Al-Alul, the former government of Nablus, praised Abbas' stance on going to the Security Council despite American warnings of the consequences.

“It has become evident that the only person who dares to say no to the US nowadays is the Palestinian president, Abu Mazen, and other Palestinian leaders,” he said.

“Yes, we want to change the rules of the game because we spent a long time in negotiations, and we made every possible effort to achieve just and honorable peace. This Israeli government is not one that seeks peace, but rather seeks settlement expansion and seeks to satisfy settlers.

"To them we say that our top priority is the interests of our people.”

In New York, US President Barack Obama was to meet Abbas later in the day, just hours after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a US official said Tuesday.

Obama has called for negotiations to resume using the 1967 borders -- before the Six-Day war -- as a starting point for the contours of an eventual Palestinian state.

European diplomats and the Middle East Quartet -- comprising the EU, the US, the UN and Russia -- were all seeking to head off a confrontation in the Security Council on Friday, when Abbas will address the UN.

Sources close to the negotiations, that asked to remain anonymous, said a focus was on trying to buy time to allow a broader path toward resuming the direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks which have stalled since September 2010.

One possibility was that UN chief Ban Ki-moon does not hand over Abbas's letter straight away to the Security Council, one European source said, adding there were other "diplomatic airbags" that could be used to defuse tensions.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who met Tuesday with Abbas, was also expected to unveil a breakthrough during his speech to the opening of the UN assembly in Wednesday, French sources said.

Abbas held a whirlwind of talks Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly which opens Wednesday.

Palestinians Hold Massive Protests, Demand UN Membership
Wednesday September 21, 2011 16:32 by Alaa Ashkar - IMEMC & Agencies
Thousands of Palestinians are holding massive nonviolent protests to express their support for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas,who will be requesting a full membership at the United Nations, after delivering his speech at the UN General Assembly on Friday Sep 23. The rallies started in all districts of the West Bank earlier on Wednesday, the Maan News Agency reported.

Protesters expressed their support for the Palestinian President, urging him to submit the Palestinian bid to the UN General Assembly, requesting Palestine’s membership as the 194th state at the international body.

30 anti-Zionist Jewish rabbis of Neturei Karta participated in a massive protest held by the Palestinians in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, to express their support to the Palestinian move.

A Rabbi of Neturei Karta stated in a speech in front of thousands of protesters that Neturei Karta supports President Abbas, adding that "the original Palestinian Jews, feel the same pain the Palestinians feel, and the suffering inflicted by the Zionists, we all know that Zionism does not belong to Judaism.”

He added that the Palestinians have all rights in this country, occupied by Israel, and that the "Zionism is the enemy of God, the enemy of all religions, and the enemy of the people".

"We as Palestinian Jews affirm our support to the Palestinian cause", he said, "Zionists are acting against the Torah that forbids the establishments of a Jewish State".

Palestinian Christian leaders and priests, and Samaritans, participated in the activities, demanding Palestinian statehood and independence.

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, will be holding a closed meeting with the US President, Barrack Obama, on the sidelines of the UN general Assembly annual , ahead his speech at the UN body on Friday Sep 23.

The Obama administration rejects the Palestinian move, and declared its decision to veto it at the UN.

1 ) Jonathan / USA
21/09/2011 13:09
I support you all 100%, but you shouldn't be rallying in Ramallah - this is not your Capital - Jerusalem is! You should do two wide-scale, non-violent marches from the Qalandia & Bethlehem checkpoints to the Old City of Jerusalem and stage a wide-scale sit in at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. Do not leave until you get it back. They cannot kill you all!

2 ) Salma / Palestine
21/09/2011 14:01
yea right and al-Ashekeen band performed in Ramallah , Amazing group, I love them!.

3 ) Don McPherson / Ireland
21/09/2011 14:25
Airbag diplomacy, nor any other sort of diplomacy cannot be employed against a 40-ton truck or bulldozer.

7 ) Maher / Navblus
21/09/2011 16:04
great. at this moment we all behind abu mazen.

8 ) J / USA
21/09/2011 18:05
Jonathan, that would end in mass bloodshed. They cannot kill you all? Just watch them. They would shoot the ones who got through, and close the gates on the rest. I agree with you: nonviolent protest is the way to go, but I don't think storming the Bethlehem and Qalandiya checkpoints is the best idea. I think that would be irresponsible with human life. However, yes, Jerusalemites need to be involved. Of course! And I'm sure Arab Israelis are involved.

10 ) marge / USA
21/09/2011 19:33
So happy Palestinians have gotten this far and finally breaking the US-Israel yoke from their neck. Its a historic day for the Palestinians and a good day for the rest of world. Absolutely delighted the Palestinians are forcing Obama to show his deceit and hypocrisy and the ugliness of the US. The world has a right to know. I am rooting for the Palestinians and praying they get the needed votes for statehood. Good job Pres. Abbas and all.

11 ) JohnWV / USA
21/09/2011 19:36
Ongoing war against occupied Palestine greatly benefits Israel. The context of war perpetuates enormous American military assistance, abets illegal land confiscation and masks the Jewish State's ruined integrity. Nearly one hundred Palestinians killed for each Jew; just Israel's continuing exercise of its right to defend itself.

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