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West Bank protests against normalisation with Israel

Palestinian protestorsThe occupied West Bank has witnessed a number of demonstrations in protest at the normalisation projects promoted by the Geneva Initiative. The protesters have called on anyone pushing the culture of normalisation with Israel to be dismissed from their posts; at the top of their list is PLO Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo.

A number of pro-normalisation meetings have been held this week between PLO leaders and members of the extremist Likud and Shas Parties in the PLO's headquarters in Ramallah. On top of that, there have been secret meetings with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his home in Occupied Jerusalem.

The meetings in Ramallah were preceded by a gathering in the Knesset attended by the former Minister for Prisoners' Affairs Ashraf Al-Ajrami, Khalil Al Shaqaqi and others. Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni attended on behalf of the Israeli government.

Activists and intellectuals have launched a campaign against normalisation with Israel. Dozens staged a massive sit-in at the PLO's headquarters in Ramallah on Monday to call for the dismissal of "the generals of normalisation" within the organisation. Banners demanded that the PLO "cleanse" its leadership of such people.

The political cover should be removed from pro-normalisation programmes like the Geneva Initiative, said protesters, and Abed Rabbo "should be dismissed" from his post with the PLO. Such meetings, they claim, "harm the struggle for Palestinian rights and freedom".

Hamas official Jamal Al-Taweel condemned the PLO moves. "Although successive Israeli governments have continued to offend our people, ruin our economy, Judaise and ruin our sacred sites, and abuse our heroes who are detained in Israeli jails," he said, "despite all of this a group that has defied our people's will is now supporting normalisation, meeting with criminal Zionists, and wishing for a swift recovery for those who had called for the killing of Palestinian babies in their mothers' wombs." This demonstrates, he insisted, that the PLO no longer represents the Palestinian people and must be re-structured and removed from those who have "hijacked" it.

Reconciliation must move forward without delay, added Al-Taweel. In an interview with Istiqlal, he said that efforts must be made to make sure that Palestinian institutions and political decisions cannot be hijacked again.

The Hamas leader praised the youth-led protests against normalisation and stressed that such moves reflect the Palestinian people's true consciousness in accord with the martyrs' will and the prisoners' sacrifices.

Political analyst and writer Adel Samara said that the problem lies in Oslo's normalisation approach that started in the eighties and was crowned with the signing of the peace treaty in which the PLO gave up its liberation role.

Samara told Istiqlal that since Oslo and the Paris agreements were signed, some have tried to reinforce the policy of normalisation with the occupation. He called Abed Rabbo and those like him "tools in the hands of the Israelis".

Fatah parliamentarian Najat Abu Bakr said that ordinary Palestinians will continue to fight until pro-normalisation figures are ousted; Abed Rabbo is at the top of her list as well.

According to Omar Assaf, the representative of the National and Islamic Forces in Ramallah, those who give up the rights of the people are now rejected and they must not retain their positions in the PLO leadership. He too called for Abed Rabbo's dismissal. "When they were elected years ago they were not elected to push such dirty policies, but to fight for the rights of the Palestinian people," he pointed out.

Report by Essam Abu Thaer


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