Pales­tinian leader re­turns a hero

Mah­moud Ab­bas hailed af­ter gain­ing recog­ni­tion at U.N.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Byaron Heller and Dalia Nammari NASSER SHIYOUKHI / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

RAMALLAh, West BAnK — The Pales­tinian pres­i­dent re­turned tri­umphantly to the West Bank on Sun­day, re­ceiv­ing a bois­ter­ous wel­come from thou­sands of cheer­ing sup­port­ers at a rally cel­e­brat­ing his peo­ple’s new ac­cep­tance to the United Na­tions.

An Is­raeli de­ci­sion to cut off a cash trans­fer to the fi­nan­cially trou­bled Pales­tinian Author­ity, fol­low­ing an ear­lier de­ci­sion to build thou­sands of new homes in Jewish set­tle- ments, failed to dampen the cel­e­bra­tions.

But Pales­tinian of­fi­cials ac­knowl­edged they were un­de­cided on what to do with their new­found sta­tus, and were wait­ing for up­com­ing Is­raeli elec­tions and new ideas from Pres­i­dent Barack Obama be­fore de­cid­ing how to pro­ceed.

Out­side the head­quar­ters of Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, some 5,000 peo­ple thronged a square, hoisted Pales­tinian flags and cheered their leader’s re­turn from New York.

“We now have a state,” Ab­bas said to wild ap­plause. “The world has said loudly, ‘Yes to the state of Pales­tine.’”

The United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly last week over­whelm­ingly en­dorsed an in­de­pen­dent Pales­tinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, ter­ri­to­ries Is­rael cap­tured in the 1967 war.

The move to up­grade the Pales­tini­ans to a non­mem­ber observer state does not change much on the ground, but it car­ries po­ten­tial sig­nif­i­cance.

The vote amounted to an in­ter­na­tional en­dorse­ment of the Pales­tinian po­si­tion on fu­ture bor­der ar­range­ments with Is­rael and an over­whelm­ing con­dem­na­tion of Is­raeli set­tle­ments in the ar­eas claimed by the Pales­tini­ans.

Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, waves to the crowd dur­ing cel­e­bra­tions in Ramallah on Sun­day.

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