RAMALLAH, January 25 (JMCC) - Thousands of Fateh supporters gathered at the Palestinian presidential headquarters in a rally welcoming home Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to the West Bank. Waving Fateh and Palestine flags, the rally was designed to show support for the Abbas government in response to al-Jazeera’s broadcast of leaked Middle East negotiation documents.
Youth crushed against the barrier near the president shouting slogans of support. “With blood, with soul, we sacrifice to you. We will go to Jerusalem, a million martyrs strong, the crowd of approximately 3,000 chanted, using a famous slogan from the days of Abbas’ more charismatic predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
The Palestinian principles ... have not and will not change and the first of them is that East Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Palestine, Abbas said to cheers from supporters from all over the occupied West Bank.
He said the Qatari-owned al-Jazeera had used fake documents in a bid to charge Abbas's Palestinian Authority with cowardice and duplicity in confidential talks with Israel over a Palestinian state.
The speech was designed to rouse supporters, and calm dissenters. He listed the achievements of the Palestinian Authority in recent months, the move to seek recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations security council and the reiterated recognition of a Palestinian state given by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during his visit.
No one in the world can make us give up on a centimeter of our land, the issue of the refugees or the issue of Jerusalem, Abbas told the people. Their rally was the most important response to what al-Jazeera alleged, the president said.
Hasan al-Ori, legal advisor to Abbas, said that “al-Jazeera has thrown everything into disarray. The victim here is the Palestinian people. That is why people took to the [presidential compound] to offer support.”
Despite signs of planning, Fateh leader Mohammed Yakoub insisted that the rally was spontaneous.
“No one invited me, I heard about it on the street and came along with my family,” intelligence official Maher Faris told JMCC.
Buses with Palestinian flags draped from the windows brought Fateh supporters to Ramallah from across the West Bank. Palestinian journalists were told of the event hours before. Sources from Palestinian intelligence suggest the rally was planned, with Abbas’ speech intended to rally support.