Thousands rally for change in West Bank


Published today (updated) 25/02/2011 09:53



Palestinians rally against US policy toward Israeli settlements, in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Feb. 23, 2011. About 2,000 Palestinians turned out to protestan American veto in UN Security Council against a draft resolution condemning settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. [MaanImages/Luay Sababa]

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Palestinians rallied Thursday in the center of Ramallah protesting against both the state of internal political disunity and the Oslo Accords with Israel, leading to brief skirmishes between the sides.

About 1,500 protesters took to the main streets of the city carrying flags and banners and calling for unity and liberation. Protesters represented every faction, among them Hamas, Fatah, and the leftist parties.

Khalida Jarrar, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine lawmaker, said it was time to “wipe this page from our history.”

Rally organizer Hassen Faraj said the “Palestinian youth want to convey a clear message on the necessity of ending division and to return to unity, enough with division.”

He added: “We must return to unity. We’re too complacent with the division. If we unite, we could confront the Israeli occupation and restore our rights and stand behind our leadership.”

Authorities in Gaza banned the rally, Faraj said. He considered the move disappointing.

Hamas and Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, are longstanding rivals, but tensions between them boiled over in 2007, when the Islamist group ousted its Fatah opponent from Gaza.

Successive reconciliation talks between the two sides have failed.

In Nablus, 5,000 people demonstrated against what was the first US veto at the UN since the Obama administration took office: the nixing of a resolution which criticized Jewish settlement activity.

Palestinians waved flags and banners, lashing out at Obama’s administration.

“The US veto puts Israel above international law,” some chanted during the demonstration in the northern West Bank town.

“We came here today to say no to the US veto, the veto of shame,” said Mahmoud Ishtayeh, a local official in the Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The resolution, drafted by the Palestinian leadership in an attempt to pressure Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, was supported by all 14 other members of the Security Council.

The United States denied its veto should be interpreted as support for settlement construction, but said it did not believe the United Nations was the best place to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian officials have said they will launch a new bid for UN condemnation of Israeli settlement building, bringing a resolution before the General Assembly.

Maan News Agency: Thousands rally for change in West Bank.

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