“We reject America’s biased positions in favor of Israel,” some 40 demonstrators chanted on Tuesday in Ramallah’s central Manara Square, in the second organized West Bank protest against US President Donald Trump since he took office on January 20.
“The United States has lost its role as a fair interlocutor” and “Netanyahu and Trump are the same person,” the demonstrators continued, expressing their frustration with the results of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting last week in the American capital.
With Palestinian Authority police blocking traffic, the demonstrators held signs and a handful of flags high for approximately 40 minutes, as some passersby joined.
While no senior PA officials attended, a number of top Palestine Liberation Organization and local leaders participated in the demonstration, including the National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah and al-Bireh coordinator Isam Bakr, PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousif, and PFLP official Ramzi Rabah.
Bakr, who was responsible for organizing the protest, said that he wants to send a message to the American administration that its policies are unsustainable.
“I am sending a message to America that the Palestinian people cannot accept its biased policy in favor of settlements,” Bakr said. “Trump’s refusal to take a clear position on a Palestinian state has given Netanyahu the green light to build settlements and destroy the hope of achieving an independent Palestinian state.”
Standing alongside Netanyahu, Trump told a White House press conference last Wednesday that he is not married to any particular solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, breaking with decades of firm US commitment to the twostate solution.
“I’m looking at two-state and at one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I can live with either one. I thought for a while the twostate looked like it may be the easier of the two but honestly if [Mr Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
Trump also called on Netanyahu to “hold off on settlements for a little bit,” setting a different tone in comparison with previous American administrations that have outright condemned settlement activity.
Abu Yousif, who is a regular at demonstrations in Ramallah, said that Trump’s statement on settlements was insufficient and wants the United States to clarify its position.
“We need the United States to commit to international law, which guarantees the establishment of a Palestinian state and says that settlements are illegal,” Abu Yousif stated. “Without clear commitments, I fear that Netanyahu will continue to destroy the two-state solution by building settlements.”
In comparison to the Palestinian officials and others at Tuesday’s demonstrations, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has taken a cautious approach in dealing with the Trump administration.
“[I am] ready to deal positively with the Donald Trump administration to make peace,” Abbas said in a statement following last weeks Trump-Netanyahu meeting, refraining from criticizing the US president.
Several minutes after Tuesday’s demonstration, police reopened the streets to traffic and the center of Ramallah returned to business as usual.
Bakr, however, said he is already planning more demonstrations, in which he expects more people to participate.