Palestinian Leaders Call for Protests as Trump Sets to Release Mideast Plan

Organizers of weekly Gaza protests, which were to have been suspended until March 30, call for their resumption

Jack Khoury
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Palestinians in the Deheisheh refugee camp on the West Bank prepare to burn a picture of Trump.
Palestinians in the Deheisheh refugee camp on the West Bank prepare to burn a picture of President Trump, Jan. 27, 2020. Credit: Musa al Shaer/AFP
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza called on Palestinians on Monday to protest the Trump administration’s plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which is to be presented in Washington on Tuesday.

In the Gaza Strip, the committee that has organized demonstrations along the Israeli border called for a resumption of protests along the border fence. The committee, which is comprised of various factions, called for a mass turnout on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Late last month, the committee announced a halt to the marches until March 30, as a result of the Palestinian casualties that were overloading Gaza’s health services. At this point, it isn’t clear whether the weekly Friday demonstrations along the border fence will also resume.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian factions, including President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, also called for mass demonstrations on both Tuesday and Wednesday. On Monday evening, protesters in the Deheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem burned pictures of Trump and waved pictures of the Palestinian president.

A senior official said Abbas had refused to participate in a phone call with Trump on Monday regarding the peace plan. This followed similar attempts by the Trump administration last week, the official added. The Palestinian president has been in touch with leaders in the Arab and Muslim world and is expected to call for an urgent meeting of the Arab League as well as a having the Fatah central committee convene over the Trump plan.

Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza City prepare to set an effigy of President Trump on fire.
Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza City prepare to set an effigy of President Trump on fire during a protest against his Middle East peace plan, Jan. 27, 2020.Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP

Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, said on Sunday that the plan – which will reportedly include extending Israeli sovereignty over all settlements and annexing the Jordan Valley in the West Bank – would spell the end of the two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

President Abbas has called for an emergency meeting of the PLO executive committee and the Fatah central committee for Tuesday at 7 P.M. local time to coincide with the expected timing of the release of the Trump plan.

For the past two years, the Palestinian Authority has refrained from having contact with the Trump administration. The move was sparked by the decision of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. No official Palestinian representative will attend the release of the plan in Washington, nor will Arab countries attend, except for the possible presence of a representative from the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Calls have been growing in both the West Bank and Gaza for a meeting of all the Palestinian faction leaders in Cairo. On Sunday, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said he was prepared to participate.

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