RAMALLAH/GAZA — Thousands of Palestinians on Thursday staged demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against U.S. President Joe Biden’s first visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, slamming his biased stance on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
In the coastal enclave of Gaza Strip, ruled by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), hundreds of Palestinians waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans at the square of the Unknown Soldier in western Gaza city to condemn Biden’s visit which started on Wednesday.
“President Biden, your administration has always been biased to the Zionist entity and has always been denying our people’s legitimate rights, so we denounce the flagrant American collaboration with the Zionist entity,” Khalil al-Hayyah, Hamas deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, told the rally, referring the U.S. support to Israel.
Commenting on the Jerusalem Declaration signed by Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid to establish a strategic partnership between the two allies, Al-Hayyah denounced it as a “blatant confirmation of the unjust U.S. policy against the Palestinian people” and “a new promise to the Israeli occupation that will not change the reality of the Holy City.”
He noted that Biden carried nothing in his pocket during the visit except the unlimited support for Israel and the focus on Israeli security and prosperity, and “in return, he carries a package of false promises to the Palestinians.” In another rally held in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Issam Bakr, the coordinator of the national and Islamic factions, told Xinhua that the rally carried a clear message to Biden that he is not welcome in Palestine. “The visit carries great risks for the Palestinian cause,” Bakr said.
“The goal of the visit is to consolidate Israeli hegemony over the Arab region, seize its wealth and deprive its people.” Hundreds of Palestinians also took to the streets in the northern West Bank city of Nablus in protest against the visit.
Nasser Abu Jaish, head of the factional coordination committee in Nablus, told Xinhua that the Palestinian factions do not welcome Biden “because his administration is completely biased toward Israel and ignores the Palestinian issue.”
“The American strong support to Israel and its bias make this visit unwelcome,” he said. Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Fatah Party, said that the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Biden would be only a “protocol.” “The visit will not issue a joint American-Palestinian statement due to the differences between the two sides on a number of core issues,” he said in a press statement.
Al-Ahmad said that the contentious issues between the two sides include the U.S. failure to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state, reopen the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington, and remove the PLO from the terrorism list. “Biden’s visit is too short, during which it is not possible to discuss the core issues, and it is more of protocol than political,” he said.