Palestinian Arabs Rally Against Talks with Israel
Palestinian Arabs on Saturday held demonstrations in opposition to peace negotiations with Israel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's framework proposal that will serve as the basis for future negotiations.
The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency reported that the demonstrations were organized by leftist groups in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and were held in Hevron and Shechem.
The demonstrations claimed Kerry’s proposals were intended to "liquidate the question of Palestine and prolong the Israeli occupation."
Kerry is expected to announce a framework proposal to guide ongoing negotiations between Israel and the PA within the coming days.
The rally in Hevron kicked off in front of al-Hussein Ibn Ali football stadium, reported Ma’an. Demonstrators carried PLO flags and flags of leftist factions, alongside signs denouncing the "pressure" the United States and Israel are putting on the PA to accept negotiations.
A member of the central committee of the Palestinian People's Party, Fahmi Shahin, delivered a speech during the rally, calling upon the Palestinian Authority to "immediately stop peace negotiations and to reject the U.S. sponsorship to these talks."
The American proposals “to accept the Israeli occupation as a fact must be rejected," he added.
Shahin urged the PA to reject any move to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and called upon its leadership to demand the implementation of the so-called “right of return” of Palestinian refugees. Doing so would flood Israel with millions of Arabs.
In Shechem, reported Ma’an, hundreds attended a rally in which they condemned Kerry's proposed framework agreement and what they claimed was the “U.S. bias in favor of Israel”.
A member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ramzi Rabah, said that Kerry's repeated visits to the region have served as a way to give Israel more time to continue settlement activities, in the process imposing a new status quo that is “destroying the possibility of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.”
Rabah added that the framework agreement represents a great danger that has been rejected by the Palestinian people as being inconsistent with their national rights.
He further claimed that the agreement is a cover to allow Israel “to speed up the processes of settlement and the Judaization of Jerusalem.”
The rallies took place in the wake of continued talks between Israel and the PA, which have so far not accomplished much despite Kerry’s never-ending optimism.
Several days ago, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that despite Kerry’s efforts, the PA has so far gotten nothing out of the ongoing peace negotiations with Israel.
Abbas blamed “the Israeli side” for the lack of progress in the peace talks, slamming Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria as "invaders" with "no right to Palestinian land”.
Abbas also stressed that Palestinian Arabs living inside what is now Israel "were on the land 1,500 years before Israel was established."
The PA’s chief negotiator Saeb Erekat declared on Tuesday that the PA will not agree to extending peace talks even a day beyond the nine-month framework. Talks began last July and are set to expire in April.
Abbas has consistently declared that unless all his demands are met, there will never be peace with Israel. He has also made clear several times that the future Palestinian state will have no Israeli presence whatsoever. The last time he stated this was during his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week.