Palestinians in the West Bank declared Tuesday “a day of rage” in protest over the United States decision to soften its position on Israeli settlements in the area. The demonstrations, backed by the Palestinian Authority, are expected to turn violent in areas where Israeli forces are stationed.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repudiated last week a 1978 State Department legal opinion that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” The move angered Palestinians and immediately put the U.S. at odds with other nations working to end the conflict.
The demonstrations will be held under the leadership of veteran Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul, with the knowledge and consent of Palestinian President of Mahmoud Abbas.
The protests are part of the “popular resistance” doctrine, characterized by riots which include the throwing of stones and burning of tires.
"It is estimated that it will be a very violent day in the West Bank,"a senior PA source told Ynet. "If these protests result in fatalities on the Palestinian side, it could lead to security escalation."
The biggest demonstrations are expected to take place at Huwara checkpoint (an IDF checkpoint at one of the four main exits of Nablus), at several locations in the city of Hebron and the Focus checkpoint at the entrance to Ramallah.
In an effort to increase the number of participants, the PA decided to allow all educational institutions to finish its work day at 11:30 am.
In addition, some labor unions in the West Bank said they intend to end the workday in the afternoon hours in order to encourage people to participate in the demonstrations.
The Trump administration’s move was heavily criticized by many European countries, prompting the U.N. human rights office to issue statement rejecting the U.S. position that it now backed them.
"We continue to follow the long-standing position of the UN that Israeli settlements are in breach of international law," UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.
"A change in the policy position of one state does not modify existing international law nor its interpretation by the International Court of Justice and the Security Council," he said.
On Monday, Arab League foreign ministers have denounced the Trump administration’s announcement in an emergency meeting in Cairo where Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit called the decision “unfairly biased and unacceptable.” adding that the U.S. has forfeited its role as a neutral arbiter between Israel and the Palestinians.
First published: 12:02 , 11.25.19