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Rallies for UN bid in West Bank, Gaza

Nov. 29, 2012 2:51 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 30, 2012 6:52 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinians rallied Thursday across the occupied West Bank to support President Mahmoud Abbas' bid to upgrade Palestine's status at the United Nations.

Tens of thousands took part in a march in Hebron where Palestinians waved flags from Fatah as well as Hamas to support the bid and national unity.

In Nablus, representatives of Palestinian factions and the revolutionary council of Fatah joined students and employees for a march that included Hamas officials, although the party was not officially participating.

“We carry a message to the whole world that says that we are capable of using all kinds of resistance. We are going to the UN, in order to protect our people, lands, and prisoners,” said Mahmud al-Aloul, a member of Fatah's central committee.

In Gaza City, Fatah held its first large-scale rally in the Gaza Strip since 2007, joined by representatives of national and Islamic factions.

Fatah revolutionary council members, including Ameen Maqboul, led a march at the Rashad al-Shawa building in support of the UN bid and called for national reconciliation.

Fatah and PLO official Zakaria Al-Agha told the rally it marked the moment "the end of the division (between the West Bank and Gaza) was announced."

After Abbas returns from the UN there will be a meeting to reform the PLO and the president will soon visit Gaza "to end the split for good," he said.

In New York, President Mahmoud Abbas said he was ready to address the UN General Assembly later Thursday.

"The whole world realizes that the Palestinian Authority with all its political, security, services and administrative bodies has been ready to upgrade its status for six years," Abbas told reporters.

The president said he was determined to go to the UN despite pressure from countries opposed to the initiative and Palestinians have a right to sovereignty on what is left of their homeland.

Referring to threats from Israel and the United States, Abbas said "if the Israeli authorities want to threaten my life, they can," because he already lives under occupation along with all Palestinians.

EU support

The European Union, meanwhile, said a Palestinian state should be fully recognized by the UN but called on Israel and the Palestinians not to undermine each other's confidence in any peace talks.

The EU statement underscored deep divisions in 27-member bloc over its approach to solving the conflict. Roughly half are expected to vote for Palestinian statehood.

The bloc's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton said in a statement: "The EU has repeatedly expressed its support and wish for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations as part of a solution to the conflict."

She urged both sides quickly to resume negotiations, stalled now for some two years, but warned them not to damage trust.

Reuters contributed to this report..
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