Palestinian protesters have denounced United States President Barack Obama for his opposition
to their bid to win United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.
Dozens rallied on Thursday outside Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas'
office in Ramallah. They held up anti-Obama signs, including one reading "Obama the hypocrite" and another claiming the American president is siding "with killers against victims." The protesters also burned photos of the US president.
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Obama told the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that a state can only be established through negotiations with Israel.
The US has said it would block the recognition request in the Security Council.
Obama slammed as hypocrite in Ramallah (Photo: EPA)
The IDF and the police are gearing for the possibility that clashes will break out Friday after Muslim prayers. Police will decide later on Thursday whether to limit the entry of worshippers into the Temple Mount compound.
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According to the police, Wednesday's riots
in the territories – which left two Israelis, including an infant, injured – were local and did not develop into wide-scale violence. Friday's protest events are not expected to turn into massive riots either.
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A security source told Ynet that the alert level was very high, although the police did not have any concrete information on plans to ignite the situation.
"Abbas' UN speech will be tomorrow evening, and they have no interest in inflaming the situation because problematic incidents will turn against them and prove they are incapable of running a state," the source said. "The goal is to see Friday's events end with the lowest number of casualties possible."
Despite the optimistic estimates, the police view Friday as a test with a particularly explosive potential.
The police will boost their forces on Friday, focusing on Jerusalem, the Jerusalem vicinity and the crossings to Israel from the territories. Another important center is the Temple Mount, where prayers could potentially develop into riots every Friday.
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino are expected to visit the area on Friday.
Palestinians take to the streets (Photo: EPA)
Despite estimates suggesting Abbas will succumb to diplomatic pressure, it appears the Palestinian Authority will go ahead with its plan to submit a bid for UN recognition at the Security Council on Friday. However, Palestinian sources estimated that if and when the proposal is rejected by the Security Council, a General Assembly debate will take place only weeks later.
PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo, currently in New York, said in an interview on Thursday that the UN proposal will be submitted on Friday directly after Abbas' speech. Abed Rabbo stressed there has been no decision on an extension for the Security Council. He noted that more than 150 states will vote in favor of the Palestinian bid at the Assembly.
Rallying against Obama in Ramallah (Photo: EPA)
Speaking to Ynet, a Palestinian source explained Abed Rabbo's statements saying that the Security Council president will forward the Palestinian proposal to a special committee after it is submitted on Friday. The source however noted that the US could still delay the proposal at the committee.
"It very much depends on the Americans," the source said. "In Macedonia's case it took several months, whereas in Sudan's case it only took a few days."
He said that if the Security Council delays the request, the Palestinians will turn to the General Assembly but could not give a timeframe. "The chances of this happening while the Palestinian delegation is still in New York this week are slim to none. I estimate the vote will take place in October or November."
In his interview Thursday Abed Rabbo denied that efforts are being made for a meeting between Abbas and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but noted there was nothing wrong with such meetings. He added that Abbas had informed President Obama Wednesday on what will take place on Friday.
Meanwhile, Hamas is still warning against the statehood bid. Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said that if the international community recognizes Palestine as a UN member the Palestinians will no longer be able to engage in resistance against Israel.
Another Hamas official said that Obama had given Abbas false promises and guarantees in order to maintain negotiations with Israel and prevent the Security Council bid.
Omri Efraim contributed to this report