Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated Thursday in Nablus, in the second West Bank protest in as many days against a US veto of a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
Protesters backed President Mahmoud Abbas’ decision to censure the US after it blocked a resolution at the Security Council despite the support of the other 14 members of the 15-member body.
Organized by the Teachers Syndicate, protesters in the city center held signs saying “No to the shameful US veto,” “No to the Iranian veto of Palestinian reconciliation,” “Yes to reconciliation, Yes to national unity.”
They urged the PA to reach out to Hamas to form a unity government and work toward statehood.
Some factions have accused Iran of exerting influence over Hamas leaders in Gaza to prevent a unity deal. In turn, Hamas officials accuse the PA of letting US influence stymie unity efforts.
Protesters organized a similar demonstration a day earlier in Bethlehem, where 2,000 demonstrators briefly closed a key Israeli checkpoint.
Both events come amid an unprecedented wave of uprisings in the Arab world, after pro-democracy movements brought down two autocratic regimes and sparked unrest in half a dozen other countries.
Activists in the West Bank and Gaza are threatening to take to the streets next month if the governments in the two Palestinian enclaves fail to negotiate an end to the state of political disunity that began in 2007.
Tawfiq At-Tirawi, a Fatah leader who organized the Nablus protest, said: “I came here today not to give a speech but to cheer: No, no to the US veto. No, no to the division. No, no to occupation. Yes to Palestinian national unity, no to [the Hamas] coup.”
But the speakers were not limited to Fatah. The Palestine People’s Party, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Fida party also sent delegates echoing the same message: Palestinians should demand political unity.
They all praised the PA’s “decision to hold firm to Palestinian rights,” as one delegate put it. The participating leftists factions also stressed the need for municipal elections.
Muhammad Dweikat, another organizer, told demonstrators that “the Palestinian cause faces difficult and dangerous times because of America’s bias toward Israel and its settlements alongside the changes rocking the Arab world.”
He urged the Palestinians to form a single government and homeland to end the occupation.