Palestinians Rally in Support of Statehood Bid

By Lena Dirbashi – Ramallah, West Bank

Marches moved like currents throughout the West Bank today as thousands of Palestinians signaled their support ahead of the Palestinian leadership’s bid to the United Nations. The formal application to seek full UN membership will be submitted to UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Friday.

While this is considered a political move launched exclusively by the Palestinian Authority and not by request of the Palestinian people, the flooded streets in every major West Bank city indicates that many Palestinians are throwing their support behind the initiative.

As the large crowds echo approval to the bid- some protesters didn’t want to send the wrong message.

“I’m against the UN move,” Faten Khoury, a native of Nazareth, said. “But I came here to show that I am united with Palestinians no matter what happens.”

The biggest scene was in the city of Hebron where protesters sprawled between the commercial district of Ein Sara Street to the Municipality–challenging its reputation of being the most hostile city to the PA. In the northern city of Nablus, supportive Jewish and Christian religious leaders addressed the crowds – winning the admiration of rapturous Palestinian protesters. And in the De Facto capital of Ramallah, the epicenter of the protest took place at the newly constructed Arafat Square where Al-Aashiqeen, a Palestinian band, performed following fiery speeches by leaders of political factions.

“At first, I was against it because I don’t think anything will happen and it is just the PA trying to win some popular support,” Zuhair Al-Barakat said, a native of Qalqilya and a student of Birzeit University near Ramallah. “But this is our right as Palestinians and we need to bring the Palestinian issue to the world’s attention again.”

Many university students were given official holiday today and transportation was readily available free of charge to transport eager protesters from their villages into the major cities.

Nora Atout, a resident of Nablus, said her family is divided on the issue, with her sister and father refusing to participate in the protests with her in Ramallah.

“To my family, this is pointless. It is just a waste of time because America will veto it anyway,” she said. “But we need to keep trying. This is what (the US and Israel) want. For us to give up and not ask for anything anymore.”

– Lena Dirbashi contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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