Salam Fayyad with kaffiyeh kafiyeh 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Thursday during a visit to Paris that he thinks the failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is playing into the unrest in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Fayyad said he thinks protesters' complaints stem partly from the internal situations in countries hit by unrest, but also from "a frustration, a desperation because of the failure of efforts to solve the Palestinian problem."
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He also said he wants to respect the choices of the Egyptian people and not make many comments on the ten days of unprecedented street protests aimed at pushing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from power.
Also on Thursday, the Palestinian Authority broke up a demonstration supporting
anti-government protesters in Egypt, while permitting a smaller protest
backing Mubarak — drawing accusations it is
picking sides in the Egyptian unrest.
The PA considers Mubarak an
ally for his role in peace talks with Israel and for seeking
reconciliation between rival Palestinians factions.
While officials have not publicly commented on the Egyptian protests calling for Mubarak's ouster, some have privately expressed worries they'll lose a loyal friend — fears reflected in their handling of Wednesday's two protests.
Freelance journalist Mohammed Jaradat said police quickly dispersed more than 100 people who gathered in downtown Ramallah in solidarity with the Egyptian people calling for Mubarak's resignation. Police detained him and three other people, Jaradat said, including a cameraman whose footage was confiscated. Some protesters said police roughed them up.
The incident came hours after a smaller pro-Mubarak demonstration in the same spot.
A reporter from The Associated Press saw about 10 protesters wait for cameramen and photographers to set up their gear, then chant support for Mubarak. They also called Egyptian pro-democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei a "coward and "an American collaborator."
More than a dozen police stood by. Demonstrators would not say who organized them.
Jaradat, the freelance journalist, accused the Palestinian Authority of a "double standard."
"The Palestinian Authority is against any demonstration that goes against its politics," he said.
New York-based Human Rights Watch called on the Palestinian Authority not to use violence against peaceful protesters.
Police spokesman Adnan Damiri said both protests were illegal because they had not received permits. He denied charges of favoritism.
"Our policy is that we don't intervene in the internal affairs of other countries," he said.
The Palestinian Authority has prevented two other demonstrations in recent weeks in support of anti-government protesters in Tunisia and Egypt.