Ma’an News Agency – 18 Dec 2009
Israel is attempting to expel Palestinians from East Jerusalem, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday evening.
Speaking at the closing event of the Al-Quds Capital of Arab Culture festival in Nablus, Abbas said, “Jerusalem is suffering an unprecedented settlement attack aimed at eliminating its identity, separating it from its surroundings and suffocating every activity in order to achieve one goal, which is expulsion, and this will not be allowed to happen.”
“There is no Palestine without Jerusalem no one will accept this. Without Jerusalem there will be no peace,” he also said.
He also issued an appeal for unity among Palestinian factions. “If we continue not to have an agreement because of factional interests … this will deepen division and will allow the West Bank to be turned into cantons which will lead to a temporary, divided state.”
Earlier, Israeli police and military forces shut down events related to the cultural festival in Jerusalem itself, arresting several people, including Fatah officials.
In his speech, Abbas condemned the crackdown as “Barbaric acts that were carried out against unarmed civilians.” He said the events made him doubt whether Israelis truly aspired to peace.
The cultural event in Nablus featured music, poetry, and a dance performance. The highlight was a performance by Tunisian singer Lotfi Bushnaq.
Earlier, Abbas told a demonstration of thousands in Nablus’ central square, “Jerusalem is ours and it will remain ours.”
Attending the event in Nablus was Sheikh Abdallah Bin Zayid Al-Nahyan, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, and a number of Palestinian Authority officials.
Al-Nahyan was accompanied by an Emirati press delegation, Ma’an’s reporter said from the scene.
Abbas was scheduled to tour institutions during the rare visit to Nablus, the main population center of the northern West Bank. The tour included the Mother Teresa Church, a nursing home, and an inaugural ceremony for an intensive care unit at Rafidia Hospital.
Among the Palestinian officials participating in the events in Nablus were Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary-general of the PLO Executive Committee, At-Tayeb Abdul-Rahim, the General Secretary of the presidency, Sa’id Abu Ali, the minister of the interior, Hazem Atallah, PA police chief, Majed Faraj, the PA intelligence chief, Jibril Al-Bakri, governor of Nablus, Mahmud Al-Aloul, the member of Fatah’s central committee.