Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip took to the streets to protest US President Joe Biden’s ongoing visit to the region.
Biden, who landed in Israel on Wednesday, has disputed charges that Israel is an “apartheid” nation, instead calling it a “democracy” and a “friend” while touting billions in additional military support.
‘Israel is Not Apartheid’
Speaking to Israel’s N12 News just before embarking on his trip, Biden was asked about “voices in the Democratic Party” which consider Israel an apartheid state and urge for an end to unconditional US aid.
“There are a few of them. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re making a mistake. Israel is a democracy. Israel is our ally. Israel is a friend, and I think I make no apology,” he said in response, adding that his administration has devoted around $5 billion to Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Palestinians, led by representatives of major political groups, demonstrated against Biden’s visit, US foreign policy in the Middle East and Washington’s continued backing of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Palestinian journalists confronted Biden on Friday with t-shirts bearing Shireen Abu Akleh’s image during his press conference with President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, The New Arab reported.
Abu Akleh is the Palestinian journalist who was murdered by Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin on May 11.
Journalists were pictured paying tribute to Abu Akleh with her portrait and the hashtag #JusticeForShireen imprinted on the t-shirts, as they waited for the meeting between the two leaders to start.
Rallies were also held in the besieged Gaza Strip, involving representatives from all major Palestinian political groups. In a Gaza rally on Thursday, member of the Political Bureau of the Democratic Front, Tala Abu Zarifah told the Palestine Chronicle that Palestinian groups “strongly reject American policies that are completely biased towards the occupying state of Israel.”
The Palestinian activist protested Biden’s remarks on Palestine and Israel, saying that “Biden expressed, in the context of his statements on the Palestinian issue, that it is a marginal issue that has no value within the American-Israeli policy,” calling on the “Palestinian leadership to stop betting on the efforts of the American president and the intentions of his administration in the region.”
“We urge the Palestinian leadership to unite and reach a comprehensive national strategy that protects the right of the Palestinian people to resist and defend their land and human rights,” Abu Zarifah said.
(Romana Rubeo, Mohammed Rafik Mhawesh and Mahmoud Ajjour contributed to this report)
(All Photos: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)