World Bulletin / News Desk
A visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Ramallah triggered protests in the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday, with demonstrators calling on Palestinian negotiators to stop relying on the US as chief peace broker.
In Gaza City, protesters carried banners calling on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to shun Kerry and withdraw from ongoing US-brokered "peace talks" with Israel.
Kerry arrived in Bethlehem on Wednesday to meet with Abbas in an attempt to encourage negotiations, which resumed three months ago after a three-year hiatus.
The talks have made little progress so far, due mainly to Israel's ongoing policy of building Jewish-only settlements on confiscated Palestinian land.
Palestinian officials, for their part, say peace talks cannot continue as long as Jewish-only settlements continue to be built on Arab land in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Talal Abu Zarifa, a leading member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which called for Wednesday's protest, told Anadolu Agency that Kerry was "persona non grata" in the Palestinian territories.
"The US bias towards Israel encourages the latter to continue its crimes against the Palestinian people, speed up the pace of settlement construction in the West Bank, and Judaize the city of Al-Quds [Jerusalem]," Abu Zarifa said.
He went on to urge the Ramallah-based PA to withdraw from the talks as long as settlement activity in the West Bank continued unabated.
"The peace process should also be based on [UN] resolutions… so that a comprehensive, balanced peace can be achieved, leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state," Abu Zarifa added.
Similar protests against Kerry's visit were also seen in Bethlehem, where the US official visited the Church of the Nativity.
Outside the church, protesters called on Palestinian negotiators stop depending on US mediation efforts.
Yehia Rabbah, a Fatah leader, asserted that the UN should replace the US as the main sponsor of the peace process. He went on to call for the suspension of talks due to ongoing Israeli settlement activity.
In late July, the PA resumed US-sponsored peace negotiations with the self-proclaimed Jewish state following a three-year hiatus.
Talks between the two sides generally take place behind closed doors, with results of negotiations seldom divulged to the media.Last Mod: 06 Kasım 2013, 17:51