Cheers and criticism mark Abbas's visit to Washington

RAMALLAH, West Bank Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:17am EDT

1 of 3. A Palestinian Fatah supporter shouts during a rally in support of President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank village of Tubas near Jenin March 16, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Abed Omar Qusini

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets on Monday to show their support for President Mahmoud Abbas, who is under heavy pressure as he prepares to meet U.S. President Barack Obama.

Abbas, scheduled to see Obama later in the day in Washington, complained last week that he had come under great duress during U.S.-brokered peace talks with the Israelis, which are due to expire next month in the absence of any accord.

Adding to his diplomatic concerns, Abbas has also got entangled in a fierce slanging match with an exiled rival, Mohammed Dahlan, who lambasted his ally-turned-foe in a two-hour interview with Egyptian television on Sunday.

The interview sent shockwaves through the Palestinian Territories, which is not used to seeing such political acrimony played out on their televisions screens, and Abbas's supporters rallied in a number of towns across the occupied West Bank.

"We support you, we are with you," demonstrators chanted. "Our choice is our leadership, the protector of our national project."

Some burnt pictures of Dahlan, a former senior official in Abbas's Fatah movement, who was forced into exile in 2011 following accusations of corruption that he has denied.

The primary focus of Monday's protests were efforts by the United States to secure a framework deal between the Israelis and Palestinians that will extend negotiations beyond the initial end-of-April deadline.

The talks are aimed at creating an independent Palestinian state and end decades of conflict, but despite almost nine months of meetings, there has been no sign of progress.

Abbas has said he will not agree to demands being made by the Israelis, including that he should recognize Israel as a Jewish state. "I am 79 years old and am not ready to end my life with treason," he said last week.

Waving Palestinian flags, supporters in Jenin, Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron and Jericho said they backed Abbas's stance.

"These rallies send clear messages that the Palestinian people are committed to their constant rights and will never concede them," said Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul during the rally in Ramallah.

But Dahlan, who is seen as a potential successor to Abbas, scoffed at the idea that the Palestinian president would remain faithful to his uncompromising rhetoric.

"(Abbas) we all know that you are going there (to Washington) only to extend the negotiations," Dahlan told Egyptian television.

Witnesses said supporters of Dahlan and Abbas came to blows during a protest in the Gaza Strip, prompting the intervention of security forces in the small coastal enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas.

(Writing by Nidal Almughrabi, Editing by Crispian Balmer and Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (8)
dualcitizen wrote:
So, they want an idependent Palestinian state but would refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Sounds like Obama (I won’t negotiate until they (republicans) give me everything I want, paraphrasing). Well he should get along fine with Obama, they both seem to be arrogant asses.

Mar 17, 2014 10:45am EDT  --  Report as abuse
rgbviews wrote:
John Kerry spoke to the press last Friday on the subject of the Crimea.. In his discourse he repeatedly affirmed US foreign policy in support of international law, in support of human rights, and in suppport of multilateral resolution of issues thru the UN. He also stated US foreign policy will confront illegal annexation. The US position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the US proposed “framework” must be based on these same precepts. US credibility is on the line here.

The Palestinians rest comfortably on the moral and legal high ground when it comes to their land and rights to their natural resources.

The Israelis, on the other hand, have repeatedly violated international law and now seek to bargain with stolen property. Their demand on the Palestinians to formally recognize the “Jewish State of Israel” is no more than a ploy to destroy the peace talks. This demand was never made on the Egyptians, on the Jordanians, nor in any former peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It is simply Netanyahu’s way of torpedoing the current peace talks and continue his illegal colonization of the State of Palestine. Kerry knows it. Obama knows it. Abbas knows it.

It is time for the international courts to stop and rectify the crimes of the Israeli right-wing extremists.

Mar 17, 2014 12:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
rgbviews wrote:
Dualcitizen

The Palestinians have, several times, recognized the “State of Israel”.

The Israelis continue to refuse to recognize the “State of Palestine”.

Also Palestinians don’t “want an independent Palestinian State” …….. they have already the State of Palestine as formally confirmed by the UN several months ago. What they want is the end of the illegal occupation of their state and the return of unlawfully confiscated lands and resources..

Mar 17, 2014 1:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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