Unlike the month of September last year, when thousands of jubilant, flag-waving Palestinians cheered their president as he submitted his historic request for international recognition of a Palestinian state, this year PA residents preferred to go about their business as Mahmoud Abbas sought to renew the Palestinians' bid at the UN General Assembly.
This year, Palestinians decided to go on with their day-to-day lives as their leader spoke at the UN, as opposed to the previous year where thousands gathered at major city squares to watch his speech on large-screen TVs.
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"All Palestinians care about right now is the unstable financial situation, the cost of living and the ongoing protests," Yosef, a local Palestinian taxi driver, said.
"Abbas' speech is full of empty words. How is this speech going to help me? All I care about right now is the high cost of petrol, meat and oil."
Ramallah in September 2011 vs September 2012 (Photo: Ben Kalmar, Gil Yochanan)
It was clear that the Palestinian Authority would not make much of an effort to get the masses onto the streets on the night of Abbas' speech. "We overdid it last year," a Fatah official told ynet in regards to last year's September celebrations. "What was the festival about? It made people think that the Palestinian state was just around the corner. This time, people understand that this is not a historical moment."
It seems as if both the Palestinian leadership and the Palestinian citizens have understood that there are other pressing issues besides the Palestinian one. "The US is dealing with the presidential elections. The world is concerned about the situation in Syria and the sanctions on Iran – not the Palestinians," the official said.
Abbas supporters give UN speech in 2011 (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
Meanwhile, as Abbas gave his speech at the UN on Thursday, several Palestinian officials who support a two state solution met with Israeli leftists. The group discussed the standstill in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and possible solutions.
Settler uproarWhile the Palestinians shrugged off Abbas' address, the Palestinian president's comments sparked an uproar among Jewish settlers. In his speech, Abbas said: "During the past months, attacks by terrorist militias of Israeli settlers have become a daily reality, with at least 535 attacks perpetrated since the beginning of this year."
Gershon Mesika, Head of the Shomron Regional Council said "it makes sense for a Holocaust denier to twist reality like that. The lies of Abbas, who has the blood of the Ma'alot massacre victims on his hands, compliment the lies of Ahmeadinejad."
The FM, who is currently in New York, added that "the Palestinian Authority should be thanking Israel for saving its economy from a financial collapse, but instead, Abbas decided to slander Israel."
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