WEST BANK: Palestinians start pro-U.N. bid activities
The Palestinian support group for the United Nations bid to gain statehood recognition announced Saturday a series of activities that would reach a peak when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 23.
Abbas said on Thursday that he will be arriving in New York on Sept. 19 and that soon after he gets there he will meet with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to hand him the Palestinian application seeking full membership in the U.N.
The application will go first to the U.N. Security Council, which is supposed to make the recommendation for the U.N. General Assembly for accepting Palestine as a member state. However, the U.S. has already officially announced that it will veto it, which means the application will be quickly buried.
Abbas did not say what will be his next step, but he is expected to be going for U.N. nonmember state, which should be easy to get at the General Assembly where the U.S. does not have veto power, and which would allow him to join all sorts of U.N. organizations, including the International Criminal Court, UNESCO, UNICEF, the Human Right Council, and many, many others.
The State Department’s expected announcement did not dampen Palestinian spirit to show support for their leaders as they fight for U.N. recognition and membership.
The popular support group, Palestine State 194, in reference to becoming the U.N. member state No. 194 if it succeeds, called on Palestinians everywhere to raise the Palestinian flag on their cars and homes and on everything within their reach starting Sunday.
Mass rallies are planned in West Bank city centers on Sept. 21, when the General Assembly opens, and Sept. 23, when Abbas is scheduled to make his plea for world recognition before the world body.
But before that, and on Friday, protest marches have been called for in the West Bank villages were Palestinians and their international and Israeli supporters hold weekly protests against Israel’s construction of sections of a barrier that goes right through their village land to separate them from Jewish settlements built on Palestinian-owned land.
The next day, Saturday, calls were made on Palestinians to join the women's movement and march to the Israeli army-controlled Qalandia checkpoint, half way between Ramallah and Jerusalem, also in a show of protest against the Israeli occupation.
In the Thursday meeting at his Ramallah headquarters with members of the foreign press in Israel, Abbas made it clear that he will not tolerate any act of violence by Palestinians during their rallies in support of his effort to get U.N. recognition.
“We will hold rallies in the city centers,” he said. “But we will not allow any one to reach contact points with the Israelis. This will not be tolerated. Even if Israel comes to our cities, we will not fight back.”
Abbas’ turn-the-other-cheek approach is supposed to convince the international community that he wants freedom and liberation for his people Gandhi-style.
While he said he can guarantee that there will not be any act of violence by Palestinians, he could not guarantee that there will not be acts of violence by Israelis, whether from soldiers or settlers, against Palestinians.
Jewish settlers in the West Bank have been carrying out almost daily attacks against Palestinians on West Bank roads and in their villages.
Settlers have set fire to a mosque in the northern West Bank, wrote anti-Islam hate graffiti on mosques and university walls, attacked fields, setting fully grown olive trees on fire or cutting them down as the olive harvest season nears when thousands of Palestinian families earn their entire year’s living from the olive harvest, and threw rocks at Palestinians commuting on West Bank roads, damaging cars.
The U.S., on Friday, joined world condemnation of escalated settlers’ violence. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described these acts as “dangerous and provocative attacks.” She said that “such hateful actions are never justified,” stating that “those responsible should be arrested and subject to the full force of the law.”
-- Maher Abukhater in Ramallah, West Bank
Photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee in the West Bank. Credit: Majdi Mohammed / Associated Press