During Obama’s Middle East trip, hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets in demonstrations against the visit. Expectations are zero that Obama will broker peace between Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Some Palestinians say that the Barack administration opposes the national reconciliation between the Western backed Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas-ruled Gaza which is labeled as a terrorist organization by Israel and the US.
YOUSEF ALHELOU, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, GAZA: Palestinians in the occupied territories staged anti-Obama protests as he arrived in Israel for a three-day visit. In Gaza City, demonstrators set fire to posters of Obama, saying the president’s trip would make no difference to Palestinian aspirations.
Ordinary Palestinians complain that Obama has not put enough pressure on Israel to end the occupation of their land or halt the construction of settlements, adding that they did not expect U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to change the situation for Palestinians.
HANI OSHIBA, GAZA RESIDENT: Obama’s not here to rescue the Palestinians, he’s not here to push for the Palestinian reconciliation or any Palestinian unity, just to save the face of the United States in the region, that we are here, we’re still interested in the peace process. But on the ground, things suggest otherwise.
ALHELOU: The Real News talked to a number of Palestinian officials about what they think of this visit and whether they think the U.S. is opposing Palestinian national reconciliation between the Western-backed secular Fatah party led by President Mahmoud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas faction, which is considered by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.
SAMI ABU ZUHRI, HAMAS OFFICIAL (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Obama’s visit to the region is not welcome, because this visit aims to support the Israeli occupation and legalize it on the expense of the Palestinians national rights. This visit will deepen the gap between Arab nations and the U.S. administration, and no doubt it will leave a negative effect on the Palestinian reconciliation in light of the American position, which opposes the Palestinian reconciliation.
FAISAL ABU SHAHLA, FATAH OFFICIAL: If the United States, if really it is the biggest state in the world and the strongest and they want justice and peace in the area, they should acknowledge the Palestinian rights and acknowledge and recognize the Palestinian state, its capital is Jerusalem, and the right of return for the Palestinians, and the release of all the Palestinian detainees in the Israeli jails. We as Palestinians do what we believe it is for the benefit of our case and our people. But we say to Hamas or for everybody, come together to achieve the reconciliation and don’t put obstacles for that and say that the others are preventing it. We don’t sell our rights, our Palestinian rights, our Palestinian case in exchange of all the world money, because we paid Palestinian blood.
JAMEEL MEZHER, POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (VOICEOVER TRANSL.): Obama is in the region to support Netanyahu and his government and to give cover for more crimes against the Palestinian people and continue the construction of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. Obama should condemn the settlement policy and exercise a real pressure to stop the Judaization of the holy city of Jerusalem, and he should support the rights of the Palestinian people.
I think he will put pressure on President Abbas to go back to the peace process, which we tried for 20 years and did not bring any thing for us. The U.S. administration should not intervene the Palestinian affairs and should allow the Palestinian people to practice their right to go for national reconciliation and resist the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
While Barack Obama is in the region in his only second visit to the Middle East since taking office in 2008, expectations for Palestinians who accuse him of unfairly favoring Israel, are very low. Palestinians see little reason for optimism in his new term.
Palestinian here say that they do not see that American policy is helpful regarding bringing the Israeli occupation to an end, accusing Obama of siding with Israel on every issue.
Yousef Alhelou, reporting for The Real News, Gaza.