Lena Dirbashi reports from Ramallah, West Bank
Marches moved like currents throughout the West Bank Wednesday as thousands of Palestinians are signaling their support for the United Nations bid to recognize Palestine as a full-member state.
The formal application will be officially submitted on Friday by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority (PA). While this is considered a political move launched exclusively by the PA and not by a direct request of the Palestinian people, the crowded streets of every major West Bank city indicates that many Palestinians are throwing their support behind the initiative.
The biggest scene was in the city of Hebron where protesters assembled between the commercial district of Ein Sara Street to the Municipality continuously the night before under the banner of Palestinian unity --challenging its reputation of being the most hostile to the PA and sympathetic to Hamas, the political rival of the PA.
In the northern city of Nablus, supportive Jewish and Christian religious leaders addressed the crowds, thereby winning the admiration of rapturous Palestinian crowds. And in the de-facto capital of Ramallah, the epicenter of the rally took place at the newly-constructed Arafat Square where Al-Aashiqeen, a Palestinian band, performed following fiery speeches delivered by leaders of political factions.
Many university students were given an official holiday Wednesday and transportation was readily available free of charge to transport eager protesters from their villages into the major cities.
At first, I was against it because I don't think anything will happen anyways and it is just the PA trying to win some support, Zuhair Al-Barakat said, a native of Qalqilyha and a student of Birzeit University, who attended the protest in Ramallah.
But this is our right as Palestinians and we need to bring the Palestinian issue to the world's attention again.
Events were scheduled to continue throughout the week, culminating with live broadcasts in the streets of President Abbas's speech to the UN on Friday. While the crowds echo approval to the statehood bid, some protesters don't want to send the wrong message.
I'm against the UN move, Faten Khoury, a native of Nazareth, said. But I came here to show that I am united with Palestinians no matter what happens.
Nora Atout, a resident from Nablus, said her family is divided on the issue, however, with her sister and father remaining home but watching the protests unfold on their television screens.
To my family, this is pointless. It is just a waste of time because America will veto it anyway, she said. But we need to keep trying. This is what [the US and Israel] want. For us to give up and not ask for anything anymore.