Palestinians rally upon submission of U.N. bid

A Palestinian woman cries in the West Bank city of Ramallah as President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Sept. 23, 2011. AP Photo

A Palestinian woman cries in the West Bank city of Ramallah as President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Sept. 23, 2011.
A Palestinian woman cries in the West Bank city of Ramallah as President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations Sept. 23, 2011.
AP Photo

Thousands of Palestinians Friday gathered in the streets of West Bank cities to watch President Mahmoud Abbas address the U.N. General Assembly on giant screens in a festive atmosphere. On hearing Abbas' confirmation of the region's request to become a U.N. member state, the crowd roared.

"With our souls, with our blood, we will defend Palestine," some people said.

The same crowd earlier set fire to U.S. flags in protest to President Obama's remarks about vetoing the Palestinian bid in the Security Council.

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In Gaza, the situation was quite the opposite.

Hamas militants banned any celebratory arrangements linked to Abbas' speech. Only a handful of brave Gazans followed the speech on television screens in coffee shops, shyly cheering when the Palestinian Authority chairman talked about the application and Palestinians' right to a state of their own.

Al-Jazeera reported that Hamas police cracked down on people watching the speech in public and forced them to not watch it.

An al-Arabiya correspondent in Gaza, Hanan al-Masry, described the general sentiment in Gaza as one where "Hamas has missed out on a historic moment of the Palestinian struggle."

"The sweeping majority of Gazans are 100 percent behind Abbas' move," al-Masry reported.

An official Hamas source gave an initial reaction to al-Arabiya that the speech held lots of contradictions as it recognized the state of Israel yet requested from U.N. member states the approval of the creation of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, an al-Arabiya correspondent in Jerusalem reported that the talks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly invited Abbas to in New York are expected to be continued in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Washington renewed its call on Palestinians to get back to direct negotiations with Israel as Abbas was making his speech, both al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera reported.

  • Khaled Wassef

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