Palestinians Plan Mass Rally in Support of UN Statehood Bid

The rally, set to take place in Ramallah, will include a march from the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to Manara Square in the center of the city.

Palestinian activists and officials hope to mobilize tens of thousands for a rally in Ramallah Wednesday in support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' bid for statehood at the United Nations.

The rally in the central West Bank city will also include a march from the tomb of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, at the Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters, to Manara Square.

Palestinian women - AFP - 08092011

Abbas' Fatah party will attempt to boost attendance by closing schools for the day and allowing civil servants to attend during office hours.

Israel is placing its security forces on high alert in case demonstrators march on military checkpoints or Jewish settlements elsewhere in West Bank areas controlled by Israel.

Israeli police and border police will be placed on high alert for three weeks, starting Friday when Abbas is scheduled to submit his request for Palestine to be accepted as a UN member state.

Some 7,500 police officers have received special training for forthcoming events, police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

"In general, we are hoping that if there will be demonstrations they will be peaceful ones that will not require any response," he told the German press agency DPA.

He confirmed that non-lethal means for the dispersal of demonstrations might be used if necessary.

In Ramallah itself, thousands are expected to follow Abbas' speech via live transmission on giant screens in the city center.