Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership delegation returned to a festive reception in Ramallah on Sunday after the United Nations General Assembly recognized Palestine as a non-member state.
- After UN vote, Israel to suspend PA funds
Olmert says Abbas 'real partner for peace'
'Turkey wants Palestine to become full member of UN'
Addressing thousands of people in Ramallah, Abbas said: "We have become a state. Palestine gained a historic achievement at the UN. You, the men and women of the Palestinian people, are part of this achievement. The world has said yes to Palestine's freedom and independence, and no to the occupation and settlements."
The official reception included a guard of honor and was attended by foreign representatives stationed in the Palestinian territories. Before arriving at the Muqata compound, Abbas laid a wreath on the nearby grave of former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
Celebration in Ramallah (Photo: AP)
Thousands of people attended the rally, waving Palestine and Fatah flags. Some of the participants held signs with pictures of Abbas in a keffiyeh (traditional Arab headdress) as a symbol of the respect he has gained following his diplomatic success.
The Muqata compound was decorated with flags of Palestine and signs reading in English, Arabic and Hebrew, "This land is Palestine territory and the Israeli occupation must leave at once."
'Victory dedicated to martyrs and prisoners'
According to Abbas, "More than 75% voted for Palestine, and the message was clear – the world is with us and history is with us. We were subjected to heavy pressure, we were told not to turn to the UN, that it would be better for us and for the world. They asked us to postpone the bid, but we stood firm and won. At this moment, we dedicate this achievement to the spirit of our leader Yasser Arafat."
He went on praising Arafat, saying "this is the day you dreamed of and fought for."
The Palestinian president declared that Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine. "We dedicate this victory to our martyrs and hero prisoners, as well," he said.
He added that the next important stage for the Palestinians was achieving internal reconciliation and unity, and congratulated all Palestinian factions for their support for the diplomatic move.
"Life your head up high because you're Palestinian," Abbas called on his people. "You are stronger than the occupation and aggression because you are Palestinian. You have made history."
Adding word 'Palestine' to school sign (Photo: AFP)
The Palestinian delegation arrived in Ramallah after visiting Amman, Jordan. Abbas was greeted by King Abdullah in an official ceremony. Jordan was one of the 138 countries which supported the Palestinian bid to upgrade their status. Forty-one countries abstained and only nine voted against the motion.
The New York Times reported Saturday that the Palestinian Authority has begun changing its name to “Palestine” on official documents, contracts and websites, and that several nations are considering raising the level of diplomatic relations, giving Palestinian envoys the title of ambassador.