Obama visit conveys no hope to Palestinians

With Obama’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories set to begin on March 20, Palestinian groups and leaders express the frustrations and call for demonstrations

Obama visit conveys no hope to Palestinians

World Bulletin/News Desk

US President Barack Obama is set to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories during a three-day tour starting on March 20. And this visit, because of the recent developments and tension, is being closely monitored and highly anticipated.

After the elevation of Palestine to the UN observer state rank, a series of punitive actions by the government of Israel have fueled the resentment in the occupied territories. According to many analysts, without Palestinians being provided a horizon of hope, a new explosion of anger is a close call.

The rising tensions resulting from the longstanding pressures in the region, hunger strikes, and announcements about the construction of new settlements will be brought to worldwide attention through the demonstrations planned during Obama's visit. Experts of the region explain that the protests in support of the Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike need to be seen as the “footsteps of the 3rd Intifada,” and that the only thing currently preventing such a development is "the lack of political will."

Obama is set to visit Ramallah for a few hours on March 21 to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Riyad Al-Malki, requested that Obama coordinate his Jerusalem tour with the Palestinian Authority due to the city being occupied territory.

“Jerusalem is occupied Palestinian land and visiting it should be coordinated with the Palestinian side, with Palestinian attendance and participation,” Malki said.

The first Intifada, or Palestinian uprising, began in December 1987 with civil disobedience against the increased shootings and human rights abuses by the Israeli occupation, and lasted until 1993 during
which time Hamas was established.

The second Intifada lasted from September 2000 to 2005, and began when then opposition leader Ariel Sharon walked into al-Aqsa mosque accompanied by Israeli military and police forces and seven
Palestinians were killed in the fighting which ensued.


Meanwhile, Palestinian youth called for demonstrations during the upcoming Obama visit. The group Palestinians For Dignity expressed that Obama's visit aims to relieve pressure on the Israeli government,
to restrain the frustration of the Palestinian street and to bolster the Palestinian Authority "which after 20 years is becoming more and more disconnected from its people."

“We call upon our people to demonstrate against receiving he who considers himself Israel’s No. 1 ally,” the group said. “We also call for demonstrations against the idea of returning to futile negotiations [with Israel].”

Obama’s planned visit to the West Bank “comes at a time when our prisoners are on hunger strike and weeks after the death of prisoner Arafat Jaradat in interrogation cells,” the statement added.

The youth group noted that US policy toward Israel had not changed under Obama, and Washington continues to finance the Israeli military, as "the US is committed to maintain Israel's security at the expense of the lives, land and livelihood of Palestinians; whether by justifying the massacres against Palestinians in Gaza, or through its silence concerning settlement expansion, destruction of homes, forcible transfer and other Israeli policies."

The group also accused the PLO of hypocrisy for receiving Obama in Ramallah and not Jerusalem. It criticized the PLO for ignoring the role of Obama's administration in blocking Palestine's request for full UN membership while imposing US sanctions on institutions that recognize Palestine.

The group recently uploaded a meme onto their Facebook page which read “You are not welcome in Palestine,” accompanied by an image resembling an immigration stamp in Obama’s passport.

Another image displays the US president saying in Arabic, “American support for Israel is sacred and we must help it remain militarily superior.” An angry protester in a photo below responds in English, “this is a Welcome kiss from the Palestinian people, dog,” as he hurls a shoe at Obama, an insult in the Arab world.


The frustration expressed by Palestinians regarding this visit results from Obama’s lack of vision on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, explained Basem Ezbidi, a political scientist at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah. He added that no one on the Palestinian street is expecting substantial change on the ground in terms of the peace process.

Skepticism about the motives behind the visit was also conveyed by the democratically-elected Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, on Friday when he described it as a trap to undermine the Palestinian reconciliation process.

“We are convinced that Obama’s visit will not produce the necessary breakthrough for our people,” he said, addressing the Friday prayers in the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh also cautioned acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas to “not fall into the trap of Obama’s visit to the region and shut the door to reconciliation.”

Haniyeh states that Obama’s visit “will focus on regional developments and will only address our cause in a way to undermine Palestinian national reconciliation efforts and to relaunch the absurd so-called negotiations [with Israel].”

Objections to the official visit have been displayed from early on. A protest against Obama’s visit was held earlier by the Islamic Movement in 48 Palestine, a Palestinian movement based in Israel, on March 5 in front of the US Embassy in Tel Aviv.


Last Mod: 13 Mart 2013, 17:59
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