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Demonstrating Against Abbas: Human Rights Groups Support Ramallah Demonstration

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 10/14/09

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Ramallah -- Carrying flags and banners, nearly 1,000 protestors demonstrated in al Manara square, central Ramallah, on Monday October 5th, voicing their frustration and anger at the Palestinian National Authority's (PNA) failure to present the Goldstone report in Geneva last Friday. Originally planning to present the report which details war crimes and violations of human rights by the Israeli military and Hamas, a last-minute decision was made on Thursday to stop drafting the resolution. The decision to not pursue the resolution means that any similar effort will be postponed until March.
The non-violent protest was organized by a coalition comprised of the Palestinian national political parties, the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and civil society organizations. Sending a message to the PNA that their actions were not acceptable and they need to be held accountable, protestors called for the resignation of PNA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The decision by the PNA has escalated already existing tension between the leadership and its people. Coordinator for the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, Jamal Juma stated, "This decision has further deepened the rift between the people and the PNA and has created a mistrust that will not be overcome lightly. As woman of the families evicted from the homes in Sheikh Jarrah (Jerusalem) said yesterday in a press conference "After this, how can we believe that the PNA will protect our rights in Jerusalem and won't sell them to the Israelis?"
The Goldstone Report was released on September 15, 2009. Based on information obtained on a U.N fact-finding Mission, Richard Goldstone concluded that Israeli military forces were accused of planning out a disproportionate use of force, the punishing of a civilian population, and reckless disregard for civilian lives during Operation Cast Lead, which killed over 1,400 Palestinians. The report also found Hamas guilty of serious war crimes that may amount to crimes against humanity. Hamas and Israel have denied the report, both stating it is one-sided and biased.
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The PNA was pressured by the US and European countries to not present the resolution, believing it would stifle talks in the peace process, though diplomatic initiatives could be sought after progress in the peace process has been made. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made it clear that talks would be stifled by any action taken as a result of the Goldstone Report. Not presenting it, however, represents a huge betrayal to many of the Palestinians that the PNA represents.
When asked about the role international pressure played in the PNA's decision, Juma comments, "No doubt, there was strong US, European and Israeli pressure on the PNA and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). However, the responsibility to draw red lines and to understand that Palestinian rights and the call for Israeli accountability cannot be surrendered, whatever the pressure may be, lies solely with the Palestinian leadership. It is appalling to see that the US and most European countries are still willing to protect Israel from the possibility to stand trial in a fair international court. Yet, this cannot count as justification for decision of the Palestinian leadership to join this position."
Juma adds," To all those around the world that support our rights we want to say that whatever the non elected government in Ramallah may say, it is not the expression of the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian people have struggled for over 60 years to achieve their rights and Israeli accountability for their crimes, and we will continue to do so. We deeply appreciate the international support we are receiving and encourage our supporters to continue to stand with us."
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The Palestinian National Authority has not commented further on its decision or the demonstration.


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Carrie lives in Wisconsin where she is studying journalism.

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