A real holiday feeling abounds in the West Bank city of Ramallah two days ahead the historic move by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is to hand in to the UN General Assebmly his people’s bid for independence on Friday.
Schools closed early, and government institutions have shut down, reports RT’s Paula Slier from the city. Thousands of people can be seen on the streets. They are unfurling flags and pictures of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was buried in Ramallah in 2004, and current head of the Autonomy Mahmoud Abbas. Later, a concert is scheduled in the city.
“You really have a sense of history in a making,” Paula Slier said. People feel proud and honored that decades of struggle have culminated in a declaration of the Palestinian state, she explains.
There were reports earlier of some clashes at the Qalandia check-point between Ramallah and Israel. The situation is under control now, but the possible escalation of violence remains an issue for the security forces of both sides.
Also, there are rumors that Abbas has agreed to some kind of compromise over Palestine’s UN bid. The declaration will be delivered to the Council on Friday as scheduled, but the vote on it may be delayed intentionally.
However, Dr. Ghassan Khatib, head of the Palestinian Government Media Center, does not believe that this is a possible move.
“We do not think that this is possible, but in all cases the essence of our move is not about procedures, or about mainly voting. It is about involving the international community in serious collective effective efforts to try to help solving the conflict, to try ending the Israeli occupation,” he told RT.
It may mean the push for restart of the peace talks by the US and Israel has been fruitful, and peace will be reinstalled in the region before the new state is recognized.
Khatib says that stopping Israelis’ settlements is the only way to move peace talks from the dead point.
“It is about time for the international community to deal in more direct, in more effective way with the Israelis insistence to continue violating the international law. If we are serious about peace, so it is about time to remove this obstacle, the settlement activities in our land,” Khatib added.
The issue may rise up at the Abbas’ meeting with the US President Barack Obama later on Wednesday.
Brian Becker, national co-ordinator for the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition, believes the pressure is mounting on Palestinians to pull back from their right to ask for the recognition of a Palestinian state in the General Assembly. But they are likewise pressured by their own people.
“There is no question the Obama administration and Democrats and Republicans, operating through the Congress, are exerting an immense pressure on a Palestinian authority, making it clear that the Palestinian authority will be cut off, deprived of the funds,” Becker told RT. “As it has already happened – much of that money was already cut in July.”
“It is a lot of pressure on the Palestinians, but the Palestinians are likewise pressured by their people, who have seen no remedy to the suffering both in the West Bank and Gaza,” Becker said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has expressed his support for the Palestinian independence bid, saying the Abbas office initiative is a very rational and logical one.
“By submitting their bid with the UN, the Palestinians want once again to emphasize the pressing need for swift negotiation and settlement of the Palestinian problem on the generally-recognized basis of international law. We support them in this,” Lavrov said.
US President Barack Obama will hold talks with Palestinian National Authority head Mahmoud Abbas in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session later the day.
Obama is also scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, after addressing the UNGA session. Israel has come out in favor of a resumption of direct talks with the Palestinians and is stating that the PNA’s intention to file an application with the UN is a tactic aimed at de-legitimizing Israel.
The PNA chief is planning to deliver an appropriate application to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday. A resolution to this effect can be adopted if nine out of 15 UNSC members vote in its favor, provided none of the UNSC Permanent Members express an objection to it. The United States has already stated that it intends to veto the adoption of a resolution on Palestine.
The latest round of Israeli-Palestinian talks failed a year ago after Israel refused to extend the moratorium on the construction of settlements in territories which the Palestinians want to include in their prospective state.