Abbas viewing party 311.
(photo credit: MELANIE LIDMAN)
More than 100 people of all ages gathered outside Damascus Gate in east
Jerusalem on Friday evening to watch Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas’s speech to the UN General Assembly, as emotions ran high.
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been waiting for what he’ll say tonight for more than 60 years, we’ve been
waiting for these words. This is what Palestinians inside and outside of
Palestine are waiting to here, and it will definitely bring a big affect on the
situation,” said Ibrahim, an east Jerusalem resident, ahead of the
Locals had originally planned to show the speech on a giant
screen set up at Damascus Gate, but this was canceled after police said that a
mass viewing of the speech would block traffic. At the last minute it was moved
to a community center in the A-Tur neighborhood on the Mount of Olives, but some
people still gathered at a small store across from Damascus Gate that had rigged
up a large projection screen.
“Everybody, the whole world is listening to
Mahmoud Abbas’s speech,” said an ecstatic Fadu Ahwad, also from Jerusalem,
immediately after the the PA leader finished his remarks, as firecrackers were
shot off from the top of a restaurant and cars passed, honking, with young
people hanging out of the windows flashing victory signs.
“Even if we get
the get the American veto [in the Security Council], we will [bring it to vote]
again and again, even dozens of times we will bring it, so there will be no more
settlements, no more apartheid wall, and we will live in peace together!” Ahwad
The crowd, joined at the end by the mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad
Ahmad Hussein, trooped over to the amphitheater surrounding Damascus Gate to
sing traditional songs and chant “Liberation for Palestine!”
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“This is not the
end of the road for us, this is one battle in the war,” said Ghada Zughayar, the
executive director of the Coalition for Accountability and Integrity in
Palestine, an NGO that monitors corruption in the PA. “We will continue our
struggle, we will not give up, because we are fully aware of our legitimate
right... We are only asking for our right to exercise our right as a
people. As Abbas said, we are the last nation in the whole world that is
still under occupation. This is the moment the whole world [is watching],
and two-thirds of the world is supporting our right... We are not asking for
anything that is against international legitimacy. This is the time for
us to do fair and justice to the Palestinians,” she said.
less enthusiastic about the speech.
Osuma Azorba, a 19-year-old
photography student, said he was very worried about the issue of refugees and
the “right of return,” since his parents are refugees from Lifta, at the western
entrance to Jerusalem. “I am pessimistic because of everything that’s happened
before; they are still neglecting the Palestinians, and the strongest countries
are against [the statehood bid] so nothing can change,” he said.
concern about the “right of return” was echoed by Rali Bakir, a 71-year-old
refugee from the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. “If I don’t have my old house,
then I have nothing, if I don’t have my house, they can forget their speech,” he
Still, Abbas’s speech filled the crowd with excitement and hope for
“It was amazing for us to hear him speaking about the
refugees and ending the occupation,” said Amad Zorba, who works at Al- Quds
University. “We have one red line, Jerusalem is our capital... I hope to see my
flags in Jerusalem as soon as possible, because that’s my right,” he
No one stayed to watch Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech
to the General Assembly.
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