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Palestinians protest PA, Israel talks

26 August 2010 1:09

Palestinian Authority (PA) police break up a gathering in the West Bank city of Ramallah, which was held to protest the upcoming direct talks with Israel.

The activists had gathered in a hall in the city to oppose the new Mideast peace talks, backed by the United States, reflecting PA’s sense of vulnerability.

The negotiations are scheduled to be held in Washington on Sept. 2 after a stalemate of nearly two years.

Over 200 police broke into the hall and started shouting slogans in favor of acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas and accused the organizers of the conference of acting against the Palestinians’ interest, dpa reported late Wednesday.

The organizers, unable to hold the conference in the hall, held an impromptu protest demonstration in the streets of Ramallah, but that was also broken up by the police.

The organizers condemned the interruption of the conference and accused the PA of curtailing freedom of expression.

One of the organizers, independent Palestinian politician and former minister of information, Mustafa Barghouti, said the crackdown was a “stark violation of human rights by the Palestinian Authority.”

At home, Abbas is under fire for agreeing to speak directly to Israel’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, especially without winning a complete halt to Israel’s illegal settlement construction.

Democratically elected Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh says the PA’s decision to resume direct talks with Israel is doomed to fail.

Senior Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal says the upcoming direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel are illegitimate and a result of US coercion.

“These negotiations are taking place by force of coercion and with an American summons,” the head of Hamas’ political bureau told reporters in the Syrian capital on Tuesday, the Canadian Press news agency reported.

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