The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 19th March 2010


by Saud Abu Ramadan in Ramallah

PALESTINIAN protests against the Israeli measures in Jerusalem continued as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to halt its measures and settlement construction in Jerusalem.

Fierce clashes between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli soldiers continued over Israel’s opening of the rebuilt Hurva synagogue, located several hundred metres from the al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. The clashes erupted in East Jerusalem as well as in the suburbs of the West Bank cities of Nablus, Beit Sahour and Hebron. The Israeli army dispersed the Palestinian protestors by force. During Tuesday’s clashes some 100 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were injured.

Meanwhile Israeli Radio quoted senior Israeli army officials as saying that they expect the wave of violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to decline because “the Palestinian leaders in the West Bank are not interested in keeping the wave of violence flaming”.

But in the Gaza Strip, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated on Wednesday near the eastern border with Israel against the ongoing Israeli blockade imposed on the coastal strip and the latest Israeli measures in Jerusalem — mainly over the synagogue and the expanding settlements.

Gaza organisers of the protest said that the demonstration was arranged also to protest against the Israeli security measures in the Gaza Strip like the enlarging of the no-go zone area on the borders between the blockaded enclave and Israel.

Crowds gathered near the Nahal Ozz crossing east of Gaza city, when Israeli soldiers opened intensive warning fire at the demonstrators who tried to approach the border area.

Left-wing Palestinian parties in Gaza had earlier called for a demonstration near the borders to protest against the security no-go zone, the ongoing blockade and the latest Israeli measures in East Jerusalem. Foreign activists from several international solidarity movements joined the protest, where demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans against Israel.

Saleh Zeidan, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), who participated in the protest, told reporters: “This demonstration was arranged to reiterate that this territory is completely a Palestinian territory.”

He accused Israel of trying to annex parts of the Gaza Strip adding: “The Palestinians won’t stop their protests until Israel decides to close these zones in the Gaza Strip.”

“The West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are one united Palestinian territory that was occupied by Israel in 1967 and should be completely liberated,” said Zeidan.

On Tuesday dozens of Palestinians demonstrated near the border between northern Gaza Strip and Israel, during which Israeli army forces opened intensive warning fire, and the demonstration was peacefully dispersed with no injuries.

Meanwhile Abbas on Wednesday called on Israel to stop building Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in order to start US-led proximity talks between the two sides, which are backed by the Arab League.

Israel’s approval last week of the building 1,600 homes in the eastern section of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as a capital for their future state, delayed the re-launch of the indirect negotiations after the Arabs and Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) accepted the US proposal.

Speaking to reporters in a joint news conference with Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday in Ramallah, Abbas urged his rival Hamas movement to accept an Egyptian proposal for Palestinian national reconciliation, a matter which would help lifting the Israeli blockade.

Hamas took over Gaza after routing pro-Abbas forces in deadly fighting in 2007. Currently, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) holds sway in parts of the West Bank.

Both Abbas and Lula called for an end to the blockade Israel imposed on the Gaza Strip.

Abbas basically opposes resolving the conflict with Israel by violence, but insists that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be only resolved through peace negotiations.

“The siege on Gaza must be lifted” and the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank “must fall,” Lula said. He added that Brazil takes part in international efforts to rebuild Gaza following the end of a three-week Israeli war there in January 2009.

Xinhua news agency