Dozens of Palestinians protested in Ramallah Tuesday against US President Barack Obama’s visit to the West Bank.
Some of the demonstrators carried pictures of Obama dressed in IDF uniform with an Israeli tank in the background. Others carried placards that read: “Obama, we will never forget Iraq” and “America is the head of the snake.”
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During the protest, demonstrators also struck Obama’s pictures with shoes, chanting “Obama, get out of Jerusalem and Ramallah.”
The demonstrators tried to march toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s compound, but were pushed back by anti-riot Palestinian policemen.
“Obama is not welcome in Palestine,” said Esam Baker, one of the organizers of the protest. “He is coming here to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to give up our rights.”
Another activist said that the protest was aimed at sending a message to Obama that he is persona non grata in the Palestinian territories, especially because of his “bias” in favor of Israel.
Some Palestinians in Ramallah said they were also angry with Obama because he would not be laying a wreath on the grave of Yasser Arafat during his visit to the PA presidential compound.
“We hear that Obama will be honoring [slain prime minister] Yitzhak Rabin when he goes to Jerusalem,” said a Fatah activist. “So why is he refusing to show respect for our leader and symbol, Yasser Arafat? President Obama is not welcome in Ramallah or any Palestinian city. He is an enemy of the Palestinians and Muslims.”
Various Palestinian groups vowed Tuesday to step up public protests against Obama in the coming days.
Some activists said they have prepared many shoes to throw at Obama and his entourage in Ramallah and Bethlehem.
The anti-Obama protests prompted PA President Mahmoud Abbas to chair a meeting of commanders of the Palestinian security forces to assess the security situation in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas instructed the security commanders to work toward imposing law and order and preventing scenes of anarchy and lawlessness, said a senior PA official in Ramallah. The official said there was growing concern in Ramallah over plans by Palestinians to escalate protests against Obama.