World Bulletin / News Desk
Hundreds of demonstrators marched on the offices of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday to protest against diplomatic contacts with Israel and to denounce police violence at a previous rally.
Chanting for an end to the Oslo accords, the flag-waving crowd cut through Ramallah's crammed city centre under the watchful eye of scores of plainclothes security officers.
Heavy handed security forces intervened on Sunday to prevent a smaller group of protesters from reaching Abbas's headquarters in the occupied West Bank, and beat some journalists who tried to cover the event.
But a government source said police were under orders on Tuesday to allow the protesters to take their message to the gleaming stone walls of Abbas's compound, which is also the burial place of previous Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat.
"The streets are open to us today, and that's the result of a political decision. They realise the violence before made them look bad," said Ali Nakhle, a student who joined approximately 400 other, mainly youthful protesters in downtown Ramallah.
While there were no slogans directed specifically against Abbas himself, the protesters were scathing about a recent announcement that the Palestinian president was ready to meet Israeli Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz.
The planned encounter would have been the highest-level meeting between the two sides since direct peace talks broke down in 2010. However, it was abruptly called off at the weekend in apparent response to Palestinian public opinion.
"We want your head Mofaz," the crowds chanted on Tuesday, adding: "The people want the fall of Oslo," adapting a common refrain against the ruling elites in countless Arab Spring protests over the past 18 months.
The 1993 Oslo Accords gave the Palestinians limited self-rule in the occupied territories, and set out guidelines for future peace talks to end the Middle East conflict.
However, a lasting deal has proved elusive and the latest round of talks collapsed two years ago in a dispute over continued Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.
The protesters, who do not appear to belong to any political faction, called for a fresh rally on Thursday, hoping their grass-root movement, which first took to the streets at the weekend, will gather momentum.
The demonstrations have come at a particularly delicate moment for Abbas's Palestinian Authority, which is facing a severe cash crisis because of a failure by some donor states, particularly in the Gulf, to hand over promised funds.
Finance Minister Nabil Kassis told reporters on Tuesday that the government could not pay its workers this month because the coffers were empty.
The use of drones comes at a time when a regular publication of a blacklist of companies using slave labour has been halted.
US President tells African leaders to respect presidential term limits, not to jail journalists, and not to restrict opponents
Child says he was given bag containing explosive by stranger who paid him $5 to bring it to crowded market
US ambassador to Ukraine urges Russia to respect Minsk agreement signed in February
UN Security Council ‘undemocratic, unrepresentative, and exactly where it was in 1945,’ South African govt minister says
A three-year-old child from London is one of hundreds of young people who have been tipped as potential future radicals and extremists.
2,000 in left wing of Syriza call for 'big no' to bailout deal
Russian PM hopes Slovenia will participate in Turkish Stream after talks with his Slovenian counterpart
Russian President adviced European states to rely more on themselves than on military blocks or the U.S.
The annual Trafficking in Persons report has upgraded Cuba, Malaysia, and Uzbekistan to a higher tier as worst offenders for failing to suppress human trafficking.
The ECB will need to extend its money-printing as a result of subdued growth in the Euro zone.
An EU official has said that they "barely know how to talk to ordinary people" and have launched video clips on YouTube to counter misconceptions about the Trans Atlantic partner deal.
Hague-based tribunal attributes move to procedural reasons, but Palestinian diplomat suspects pressure from Israel
Restarting would depend on Syria becoming stable, Russian Union of Gas and Oil Industrialists executive director says.
Viktor Orban suggested that ethnic Hungarians living in Romania should be given an authonomy
Majority in favor of cabinet under Prime Minister Omer Kalyoncu