Palestinian protesters burned effigies of President Barack Obama and stomped on U.S. flags Thursday in one of the largest recent displays of anti-American sentiment here, sparked by the United States’ pledge to veto any request for U.N. membership for a Palestinian state.
Gathered outside the residence of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who’s expected to address the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday, the protesters denounced Obama, whom they accused of siding with Israel in the lengthy impasse over peace negotiations.
“Obama betrayed the Palestinian people. He sided with Israel against us, and showed what kind of leader he is and what America truly thinks of Palestine,” said Mahmoud Abouta, 17, who carried a sign with Obama’s name crossed out.
Abbas is expected to appeal for U.N. membership during his speech Friday and has said he’ll submit a formal application to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that will propose a state that would comprise the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Ban then would pass that application to the Security Council for consideration. As one of five permanent members, the United States has the power to veto anything that comes before the Security Council.
Israel has opposed the bid, and the United States has echoed its position, calling the proposed application a unilateral step that hurts peace negotiations between the countries. “Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the U.N,,” Obama told the General Assembly on Wednesday, “If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.”
But a U.S. veto of the Palestinians’ application for U.N. membership is certain to stoke anti-American ferment to new heights here, and also is likely to affect the United States’ diminishing status in the Middle East, where the Arab Spring toppled what had been a staunchly pro-American regime in Egypt.
“The U.S. has shown its true colors, as a puppet of Israel. If they use that veto, that is it. We will never forget,” Abouta said, expressing a sentiment heard here frequently Thursday.