Saturday, October 31, 2020

Palestinians tell Obama ‘You‘re not welcome here‘

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By John Space - March 20, 2013
Section: [Main News] [IN PICTURES]
Tags: [US President Barack Obama] [protests] [Ramallah]

 Photos by Lazar Simeonov.

 On Tuesday, the night before President Obama's arrival in Israel, around 200 Palestinians gathered in Ramallah to send him a clear message: they don't want him here.

Demonstrator Hazem Kawasmi carried a sign that said "Obama, you're not welcome here." He said the US' close ties with Israel mean they are complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.

"We don't welcome anybody who gives money and military support to Israel to continue its violations of human rights," he said. "(Obama's) not welcome to come and support all the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people."

The US has the power to force Israel to stop its human rights violations in Palestine but refuses to do so, preferring instead an endless series of negotiations that never seem to lead anywhere, Kawasmi said.

"We need the US to put all the pressure on Israel to withdraw its military from the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem tomorrow. We don't need another 20 years of negotiations and talk and blah blah," he said. "Enough of talks without any results while expansion of settlements is continuing on the ground, and killing of Palestinians, confiscation of land, destruction of houses, all kinds of violations."

The demonstrators met in Al Manara, the central plaza of Ramallah, before attempting to march to Al Muqata'a, the government headquarters of the PA. They were met by baton-carrying PA police who forcefully prevented the march from continuing, shoving demonstrators who came to close to the police line. 

"The Palestinian Authority has its position and the people have their position," Kawasmi said. "I think the people have already voiced their message clearly that we reject (Obama's) visit with such an agenda."

Amany Khalifa, the Community Relations Coordinator for Sheikh-Jarrah based NGO Grassroots Jerusalem, is a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem. Speaking during the demonstration, she said the PA works together with Israel to maintain the occupation.

“The PA, they are supporters. I mean, they are playing that game and they are supporting this whole system of negotiations," she said. "And we don't want to negotiate with our occupier any more. We're done."

Obama's trip to Israel and Palestine is pointless because he has no interest in mitigating Israel's human-rights violations, she said.

"I hate Obama and I hate the US policies because they are big supporters of IsraelSince the beginning of the occupation the US was a huge supporter of Israel," she said. "So now there is no reason to love Obama for nothing. Facts are being drawn on the ground, and he does nothing regarding this."

Demonstrator Jaber Abu Rahmeh said there's no point in Obama coming to Israel as long as US aid to Israel continues.

"Obama said in his speeches that he support the Israeli defense, so why's he coming to the Palestinian side if he's supporting Israelis?" he said. "He came with no solutions, he didn't bring anything with him."

 If Obama were truly interested in peace, Abu Rahmeh said, he would give economic aid to Palestine instead of to Israel.

"If he wants to do something, he should help fix the economic situation. It's the worst thing that happened here in the West Bank.“ he said. "Instead of supporting the IDF, you could support a country that has a bad economic situation."

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