WEST BANK: Mahmoud Abbas gets hero’s welcome in Ramallah
REPORTING FROM RAMALLAH, WEST BANK -- Thousands of Palestinians gave Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a hero’s welcome Sunday upon his return from his historic visit to the United Nations.
Large crowds carrying his picture and Palestinian flags cheered the arrival of Abbas' motorcade. The tumultuous welcome and the thousands who took to the streets in recent days expressed support for Abbas' bid to get world recognition of a new state of Palestine. Abbas was returning from New York, where he addressed the United Nations General Assembly and submitted a request for membership in the international body.
If the matter comes to a vote in the Security Council, not likely for several weeks, the U.S. has said it would veto the Palestinian application.
Abbas, smiling and waving to the crowd, said the Palestinian people were realistic.
“Our international diplomatic battle has just started,” he said. “We still have a long way to go. But we should know that there are those who will impede our work and put obstacles in the way. There are those who deny our national rights and will stand in our way. Yet, we are determined to get our rights.”
Abbas told the public that he went to the U.N. “carrying your hopes, your dreams, your ambitions, your sufferings, your future visions and your urgent need for an independent Palestinian state.”
He said the Palestinian Spring has just started, “a spring of peaceful struggle to win our rights.”
“We told everyone that we want to get our rights through peaceful means, through negotiations, but not any negotiations,” he said. “We will not accept less than the international terms to be the base [for the negotiations] and they [Israel] have to put a stop to the settlements.”
-- Maher Abukhater
Photo: Thousands of cheering Palestinians welcome their president, Mahmoud Abbas, at his Ramallah headquarters. Credit: Abbas Momani /AFP/Getty Images