Palestine and Israel in for unsettling times
In Palestine, there is a mood of excitement, anticipation and jubilance ahead of today’s historic Palestinian application in the UN for statehood. Thousands of people are taking to the streets to participate in demonstrations throughout Palestine.
Still, the Israeli army has strengthened its positions at the Qalandia checkpoint between Israel and Ramallah, where Palestinians began throwing stones at the Israeli forces. The Israelis had to fire tear gas to disperse the demonstration, reports the Associated Press.
Two other Palestinian demonstrations were also scattered, with Israel deploying more tear gas in two villages in the West Bank. Thus, in the village of Nabi Saleh, Palestinians carried a chair painted blue, which is the UN’s official color, to symbolize their quest for recognition. The demonstrators burned Israeli flags and President Barack Obama posters, while throwing stones towards the Israeli forces.
All in all, Israel has deployed five battalions of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with 13 more to come in case of disturbance. Twenty-two thousand Israeli police and border police officers were also dispatched to respond to any possible unrest across the country. The police and army are expected to remain on high alert until at least Saturday night along the Green Line between Israel and the West Bank, in East Jerusalem and around Arab Israeli towns, police officials told Agence France Presse.
Earlier this week, there have already been clashes between Israeli soldiers and at the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. But today Palestinians commit themselves to peaceful demonstrations.
So the focus is not so much on the Palestinian side, but rather on extremist Israeli settlers who have threatened to hold rallies throughout the day because they dispute Palestinian UN bid.
Israeli settlers on the West Bank are expected to be the troublemakers once Palestine declares statehood. Israel’s policies are designed to give no reason for Palestinian recognition and settlers will be the spearhead of Israel’s non-acknowledgment.
The focal point for Palestine will come this evening when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will deliver his historic address to the UN in a formal request for UN recognition. The bid has left the world divided, with many throwing their support behind Palestine, while an isolated US threatens to veto the bid on the grounds that Israel has not approved the move.
The goal of the Palestinian authority is to “change the paradigm,” says Palestinian MP Dr. Mustafa Barghouti.
“We cannot stay within the ranks of useless negotiations forever. Twenty years have been lost without any progress because of Israeli policy and because of Israel’s obstruction to peace. The very last chance of peace based on a two-state solution may vanish unless something is done,” he told RT.
“While negotiations were happening, Israel was annexing the occupied territories step by step, piece by piece. By the end there will be nothing left to negotiate about. Israel has created a situation where two sides are negotiating over a piece of cheese, and one side – the Palestinians – are just talking and the Israeli side is eating the cheese,” he explained.