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Photo by: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Hundreds of Palestinians protest Kerry's visit in Ramallah
By REUTERS
03/01/2014
In advance of his meeting with Abbas and his attempt to advance the peace talks, crowds of Palestinians chant for Kerry to go home.
 
RAMALLAH, West Bank - Palestinian protesters on Friday condemned the latest efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to advance peace talks with Israel, using chants evoking the Arab uprisings and telling him to go home.

Hours before Kerry was due to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, a raucous crowd of several hundred took to the streets of Ramallah, the West Bank's de facto capital, chanting "Kerry, you coward, there's no place for you in Palestine!"

Separately, an official close to Abbas dismissed Kerry's drive for a "framework agreement" as biased toward Israel.

Kerry has said such an accord would narrow gaps between the sides and pave the way for a final deal when the nine-month period allotted the US-backed talks expires on April 29.

Palestinian and Israeli officials have publicly differed on the future status of the West Bank's border with Jordan, where Israelis want a permanent security presence but Palestinians want a full withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers.

Israel said last week it planned to build another 1,400 homes in settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Kerry has told reporters that the agreement, besides borders and security, would aim to address all the conflict's key issues such as refugees and Jerusalem.

The US top diplomat held five hours of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and saw him again on Friday. He met with Abbas later on Friday evening and was expected to meet the Palestinian Authority President once again on Saturday morning.

Around three hundred activists with the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine party rallied in downtown Ramallah hours before Kerry's scheduled arrival.

"The people want the fall of the framework!" they chanted, evoking the chants heard in protests throughout the Middle East in 2011. "It's clear, Kerry, we don't want to see you! The Americans are the enemy of our people!" they added.

Dozens of riot policemen and plainclothes security forces prevented their march from reaching Ramallah's presidential compound, where Abbas was expected to receive Kerry.

US Republican Senator John McCain, who is also in Israel and has conferred with the Israeli Prime minister, told a news conference on Friday that Netanyahu doubted the proposals.

"Netanyahu has serious, serious concerns about the plan as it has been presented to him, whether it be on the ability of Israel to defend its borders, on the reliability of a Palestinian state ... and particularly on the overall security," he said.

"We also are very concerned," he said, standing alongside fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
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