Abbas viewing party 311.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
RAMALLAH – The popularity of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is
expected to rise among Palestinians after his speech, in which he formally
announced submitting a bid for full-Palestinian membership in the UN to the
Security Council Friday evening.
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A crowd of about 10,000 showed up at
Yasser Arafat Square in the center of Ramallah to watch the speech on large
screens installed specifically for the occasion.
Waving their flags,
people gathered in public squares across the West Bank cheering for the PA
“It is very important that Abbas did not cave in under the
pressure on him to delay the bid or drop it,” said Essa Kamal.
skeptics feared a change of plan at the last moment.
In the minds of many
Palestinians, submitting the bid was itself as important as gaining recognition
by the UN.
“People used to think Abbas is a man who would give in to
pressure. His step today gave the people a sense of independence, and that they
can be proactive,” said Kamal.
The crowd chanted slogans calling for the
establishment of an independent state, shouting “Netanyahu, bye-bye. We will
meet you in Lahai [The Hague].”
People listened to nationalistic songs
and left the rallies without watching Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
On Facebook pages, people who were not fans of Abbas showed a lot
of respect for him. They posted a status expressing their pride at being
Palestinians and thanking the world for the standing ovations for Abbas’s
Far from the city center, cynics downplayed the importance of the
“It is a big idea for a small country… you do not beg [for] your
rights from anyone,” Rafiq Karama wrote. He added that UN resolutions are not
implemented when it comes to Palestine, whereas the UN acts immediately on
Karama said he believes the UN is controlled by the White
Abbas had issued a decree for mosques to recite “Allahu Akbar,”
and for the churches to ring their bells marking the end of his speech in
These sounds were overpowered by the cheering voices of the
crowds in Ramallah, but were thought to have an effect in far-away villages and
It gave the speech a push some thought was needed.
the speech was more powerful,” said Adnan Naji, 25, who said the speech did not
make the crowd overly excited.
Mohammed Salem, 40, said it was fortunate
that the crowd did not get into a frenzy of excitement.
“People know the
decision will either be vetoed or delayed,” Salem said, adding that realistic
expectations would mean less disappointment.
Mohammad Nafe, 50, said he
thought the speech was great, but expected the US veto on the vote to take place
next week. Nafe said the best solution for the intractable conflict is to
dismantle the PA and hold Israel responsible for its occupation of the
Earlier Friday, the people of Nabih Saleh
village near Ramallah went out for their weekly demonstration against
They burned the Israeli flag and pictures of Obama. The Head
of the Village Council, Basher AL Tamimi, told a Jerusalem Post
reporter that he
does not believe in burning the American flag because they do not want to insult
the American people.
When asked why he wants to insult the Israeli people
by burning their flag, Tamimi replied he does not believe 20 percent of the
Israeli people want peace.
“I am certain peace lovers in Israel are much
fewer than before,” Kamal said.
Dozens of injuries were reported from the
The weekly event usually does not end before nightfall,
but the demonstration ended earlier because of villager’s plans to watch Abbas’s
There is news that the Palestinian president will return to
Ramallah this Sunday.
Palestinians are expected to throng to the
presidential headquarters by the thousands to welcome him home.