Saturday, 24 September 2011

Palestinians greet Mahmoud Abbas UN speech with joy, fear - and disbelief Palestinians massed in subdued celebration across the West Bank, marking their historic bid for statehood with a mixture of pride, fatalism and not a little fear. Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli forces at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah Masked Palestinian youths clash with Israeli forces at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah Photo: Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images Adrian Blomfield By Adrian Blomfield, Ramallah 6:28PM BST 23 Sep 2011 Comments51 Comments Crowding around television sets on Friday, they watched intently as Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, made an impassioned appeal for his people to be given the right to be called citizens of their own state. It may have been one of the most anticipated addresses ever delivered before the UN General Assembly in decades, but Mr Abbas's speech was greeted with a distinct sense of ambivalence in the territories that would make up the would-be Palestinian state. The streets of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, were bedecked with the national flag and banners proclaiming the birth of the 194th member of the United Nations. But there was a sense of artificiality about the officially organised festivities in the city's central square, one born from the fact that - for all the optimism of the banners - few genuinely believe that Palestine stands on the cusp of statehood. Loudspeakers blared the Palestinian national anthem and there was dancing and celebration in the city's Yasser Arafat Square, where a large crowd gathered to listen to Mr Abbas's speech, which was greeted with raucous enthusiasm. Related Articles Clashes in Ramallah as Palestine seeks statehood 23 Sep 2011 UN statehood bid: Palestinian killed in clashes 23 Sep 2011 Palestine: Abbas is haunted by Arafat's ghost 23 Sep 2011 Observer entities, observer states and full membership at the UN 23 Sep 2011 Timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict 23 Sep 2011 Palestinian Authority to lodge statehood bid at UN 23 Sep 2011 Giving the impression of cacophonous jubilation, it seemed as though convoys of flag-waving, hooting cars were driving through Ramallah for much of the day - but closer scrutiny revealed that it was in fact a solitary convoy repeatedly driving the same loop. Outside Yasser Arafat Square, life continued as normal and the muted atmosphere stood in stark contrast to the outpourings of joy witnessed in South Sudan when the world's newest state took its seat as the 193rd member of the UN earlier this year. And, although thousands gathered to mark the moment, the numbers paled in comparison with the vast crowds that took to the streets when the Oslo Accords of 1993 were signed, perhaps the last moment of genuine optimism on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Any sense of festivity was further soured after a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli security forces in the West Bank village of Qusra that had come under attack by radical Jewish settlers. The victim was identified as Issam Badran, a labourer, who had joined a group of Palestinians that formed to repulse the settlers, who had smashed windows in several houses and uprooted trees. The Israeli army said its soldiers had opened fire after the Palestinians threw stones at them. The incident, which comes after a spate of settler attacks on Palestinian villages in recent days, increased tension in the West Bank at a time of heightened volatility because of the statehood application. Observers have warned that violence by radical fringe groups on either side could lead to a rapid deterioration in the stability of the West Bank after years of relative if uneasy calm. Although there were sporadic incidents of violence elsewhere, most of the West Bank was calm. If the mood was hardly one of jubilation, it was not one of despondency either. A threatened US veto may mean that the statehood bid is destined to die at the UN Security Council. But the submission of the Palestinian application was still a symbolic moment for many, one in which Mr Abbas was seen as laying down a important historical marker allowing his people to take control of their destiny for the first time in two decades of discredited negotiations with Israel. By challenging US leadership of the peace process in turning to the United Nations, supporters of Mr Abbas said he had re-written the rules of negotiation with Israel to ensure that future talks would be conducted on a fairer basis. "It is important and historic in the sense that we are ridding ourselves of American hegemony over the Palestinian position," said Yusuf Abu Farah, a resident of Ramallah. "It has also freed other countries from US hegemony in terms of their attitudes to the Palestinian position." Many Palestinians are hoping that European states will now take a more dominant position than they have in the past. By setting himself on a collision course with the world's most powerful country and standing up to the United States, Mr Abbas, in the eyes of some watching, also emerged from the shadow of Yasser Arafat, his charismatic predecessor, for the first time. "I have often thought of him as a coward, but for the first time I was proud to call him our leader," said Motassim Karajeh, a shopkeeper. Not everyone agreed, however. In East Jerusalem, seen by Palestinians as their future capital, some predicted that Mr Abbas would eventually capitulate, especially if the United States carries out its threat to cut off aid to his government. "He is not brave enough to stand up to America for a long period," said Mansour Nidal, a student. "He is not a revolutionary and he is not a visionary. After a while, he will back down and then we will be back where we started." Share: inShare1 Palestinian Authority News » World News » Middle East » Israel » Adrian Blomfield » In Palestinian Authority Abbas stakes Palestinian claim to state Palestinian men throw stones at Israeli soldiers during riots at the Qalandia checkpoint near Ramallah Protests over Palestinian statehood bid Muslims around the world celebrate the start of the fasting month of Ramadan Ramadan around the world Police clash with protesters in the Arab-Israeli city of Uhm el-Fahm Clashes in Israel A rights group on Monday published new photos of Israeli soldiers posing with a detainee and vandalising a Palestinian home, in images apparently taken during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Israeli troops shown posing with Palestinians Share: inShare1 Ads by Google Expat Living In Malaysia? Do You Have £70K to £1.8m In UK Pensions? Free QROPS Guide! QROPSpensiondesigner.com/Telegraph Best Expat Interest Rates Independent Report Gets You The Best Interest Rates On Your Savings www.OffshoreInvestmentDesigner.com How to buy property in UK Most pay too much. Learn how to invest smarter in the UK. www.ypc-group.sg/freeseminar 52 comments Add a comment Comment with a Telegraph account Login | Register with the Telegraph Alternatively... Comment with one of your accounts Showing 24 of 52 comments Order by Real-time updating is enabled. Follow with email Follow with RSS blue_streak 21 minutes ago Abbas refuses to state clearly that his government accepts Israel's right to exist. He knows that if he did, this would jeopardize his relations with Iran, Syria and his other backers in the Muslim world, as well as destroy his credibility amongst his own people. Palestinians and their backers in the Muslim world do not want peace with Israel - they want a Palestinian state so that they can form military alliances, receive military aid, and improve their strategic position vis-à-vis Israel. The goal remains, as always, the destruction of Israel, or as their slogan goes, the liberation of Palestine "from the river to the sea". Report Recommend flamingo 30 minutes ago Good luck to the Palestinians. Trouble is the Americans and much to my shame the UK do not want to allow the Palestinians have whatwas rightfully agreed back in 1967. The only nation in the world currently under occupation by another and we condone it!! We should be ashamed of ourselves. Maybe we should ban the Jewish faith. Report Recommend blue_streak 10 minutes ago When you start a war which you lose, you can expect to be occupied. It happens all the time. And as long as you remain belligerent and murderous, and have no intention of making peace with the peaceful neighbour you attacked, you can expect to remain occupied. Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:39 AM Recommended by 4 people Fine, you have your own state. Maybe now you will stop trying to destroy your neighbour, or is that too much too ask? Report Recommend DannyBlack Today 03:31 AM Recommended by 3 people And as usual, Abbas lied. He claimed Israel is ethnically cleansing Jerusalem when in absolute and in relative terms there are more Arabs now than in 1967. Report Recommend Frazwell Today 12:35 AM Recommended by 11 people Strange that a Nation that was Stolen from its indigenous native Indians should have a Veto against Statehood of an Nation that was established before Christ ??!! Report Recommend DannyBlack Today 03:32 AM Recommended by 1 person When did the US veto Israel's statehood? Report Recommend garvagh Yesterday 11:56 PM Recommended by 9 people I continue to see the vigorous Israeli opposition to Palestinian statehood, as a convincing case for Palestine to be granted full membership in the UN. Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:40 AM Recommended by 4 people If the Palestinians ever start shooting at you I imagine your attitude will change with remarkable speed. Report Recommend cm87 Yesterday 11:22 PM Recommended by 2 people Sad business Report Recommend arif Yesterday 08:56 PM Recommended by 27 people Netanyahu proved to be a crafty orator indeed. He tried to link 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, Mumbai and all the other atrocities to Iran and Iran to Hamas. A diversionary tactic if ever there was one. Whilst he has valid concerns over Israel's security, any fool can see that security is best achieved when you are at peace with your neighbours, and peace will only be achieved when they accept a sovereign, independent Palestine. He was being disingenuous by saying the withdrawal from Gaza brought war - he omitted the fact that after they withdrew, they blockaded Gaza (with the help of the American quisling Mubarak), and destroyed its seaport and aiport, Gaza's sewage works, as well as other infrastructure (incidently most of it paid for by us). If the Israeli's really wanted peace they really would stop building settlements and sit down to negotiate. Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:43 AM Negotiating with the Palestinians! Why hasn't anybody in Israel thought of that? Report Recommend DannyBlack Today 03:34 AM Recommended by 3 people Only problem with that argument is that Israel pulled out in 2005 and the "blockade" in put in place after Hamas took over in 2007. Have a quick guess when the rockets started happening ( hint it was not 2007 ). Report Recommend garvagh Yesterday 11:57 PM Recommended by 7 people arif - - Yes, and after getting out of Gaza, Israel continued to grow the illegal colonies of Jews in the West Bank. Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:41 AM Recommended by 2 people If they were illegal colonies of non Jews, would you be so upset? I doubt it Report Recommend deltasierra70 Yesterday 10:35 PM Recommended by 2 people AMEN Report Recommend couchtripper Yesterday 09:06 PM Recommended by 14 people well said - I was shouting at the tv when he invoked 911... Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:42 AM Shouting at the TV- you are mad as well as angry. Report Recommend mike88 Yesterday 08:46 PM Recommended by 10 people All Abbas needs to say is "I acknowledge Israel's existence, and will negotiate on that basis." Report Recommend hospitaller Today 06:44 AM Recommended by 2 people If he was going to say that, he would have done so by now. What is he waiting for, the Second Coming? Or maybe he will never say it. Report Recommend rjbh Yesterday 09:02 PM Recommended by 12 people Within 1967 borders. And Israel can do likewise for Palestine Report Recommend humphrey_n Yesterday 08:48 PM Recommended by 24 people The PLO already did so in 1993. An inconvenient truth. Report Recommend Guest Yesterday 08:31 PM Recommended by 6 people Comment removed. Report Recommend parkimedes Yesterday 08:56 PM Recommended by 6 people He reminds me a lot of George Bush, except he speaks better english. Report Recommend sd2933 Yesterday 07:58 PM Recommended by 22 people Milikovsky's speech, a condescending, arrogant, swaggering proclamation of zionist supremacy, confident that the US in the pocket of Israel. BTW, having a first name of Benjamin does not mean that your ancestors lived in Palestine 3,000 years ago - unless their second name happened to be Milikovsky. Report Recommend Previous Page 1 2 3 Next Social Media Reactions 花音 Today 03:57 AM From twitter RT @TelegraphNews: Palestinians greet Mahmoud Abbas UN speech with joy, fear - and disbelief http://t.co/DG5gjtTQ peijinc Yesterday 11:41 PM From twitter RT @TelegraphWorld: Palestinians greet Mahmoud Abbas UN speech with joy, fear - and disbelief http://t.co/gYc1CExn VOMIT Yesterday 10:56 PM From twitter Palestinian statehood: Abbas UN speech meets joy, fear - and disbelief - Telegraph http://t.co/4WZGqStz via @Telegraph medicare 2 gaza Yesterday 10:15 PM From twitter Palestinians greet Mahmoud Abbas UN speech with joy, fear - and disbelief http://t.co/Wo1hD11A betivanski jan Yesterday 08:39 PM From twitter Palestinians greet Mahmoud Abbas UN speech with joy, fear - and disbelief: Palestinians massed in subdued celebr... http://t.co/7QwgDsh4 Danielle Stouck Yesterday 08:24 PM From twitter "few genuinely believe that Palestine stands on the cusp of statehood. " #Palestinianstatehood http://t.co/qffdAJim via @Telegraph Michele Waldorf Yesterday 07:47 PM From twitter RT @FarrukhSiddiqui: Palestinian statehood: Abbas UN speech meets joy, fear - and disbelief - http://t.co/lKXFm9px via @Telegraph" PAKMAN Yesterday 07:40 PM From twitter Palestinian statehood: Abbas UN speech meets joy, fear - and disbelief - http://t.co/gEquPREU via @Telegraph Trackback URL blog comments powered by Disqus Click here to find out more! Middle East news » Israel news Iran news Iraq news Dubai news Egypt news Follow The Telegraph on Social Media » Foreign correspondents on Twitter » MalcolmMoore profile MalcolmMoore Only just seen this, but it's great! Tricycle water calligraphy by @jonah_kessel for @danwei http://t.co/FV2gsTqJ 2 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden "It was like watching Donny Osmond dominate John Wayne." @jamestaranto on Romney/Perry on.wsj.com/o4Tvir 4 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius Quartet talks plan following Sarkozy timetable, trying to avoid a train wreck at #UN Security Council 12 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius Quartet has released statement calling for peace agreement on #Palestine by the end of 2012. Good luck with that 12 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden So wld be a help or a hindrance to be called "Walter Cronkite" at CBS News? http://t.co/fEPA0XDN 13 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden Would you buy "sugar free mints" from an octogenarian called Olga Mae? http://t.co/inn8Tm5V 13 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius Drama is over at the #UN. Abbas is on a plane tonight and it's raining heavily. A pause follows and then who knows what comes next 13 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius Responding to Abbas, #Netanyahu calls the United Nations the "theatre of the absurd" 15 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius Abbas says Israel's settlement construction 'will destroy the possibility of achieving a two-state solution' in #Palestinian territories 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite davidmunk profile davidmunk Can I try you on Facebook in about 90 mins? Or is that no good? 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden Has anyone seen any commentary saying Perry won the debate? I've never seen such unanimity as there is on this one... 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden "Rick Perry is blowing his chances to exploit Romney’s weaknesses" - @philipaklein http://t.co/UrGoBPnS 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite alexspillius profile alexspillius A standing ovation for Mahmoud Abbas as he enters the UN generalAssembly hall 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite tobyharnden profile tobyharnden Media bias on display as NBC grills Suskind, by @ByronYork http://t.co/u2NqjZRE 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite A_Osborn profile A_Osborn Bolshoi Theatre appoints first Western full-time dancer: http://t.co/DxVMFZQM #russia #bolshoi 16 hours ago · reply · retweet · favorite Join the conversation News Most Viewed TODAY PAST WEEK PAST MONTH Joanna Lumley: If you receive undeserved praise, you have to expect undeserved blame 'Slippery' Noel Edmonds failed to pay building bills, court hears Irish pensioner 'died of spontaneous human combustion' Palestinian UN statehood bid: as it happened On the desert trail of Tony Blair's millions EDITOR'S CHOICE » On the desert trail of Tony Blair's millions A bit rich: Mr Blair has said that he is worth 'considerably less' than £20 million - On the desert trail of Tony Blair's millions Peter Oborne reveals the apparent conflict of interests that allows the Middle East peace envoy to earn millions. 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