WASHINGTON: More than 1,000 rallied Saturday in Washington in support of Palestinians and calling for an end to US aid to Israel, reports AFP.
The demonstration on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial came as a ceasefire that ended 11 days of intense fighting between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip has so far held.“We are hoping to send a clear message to the United States government that the days of supporting the Israeli state without repercussions are over,” one of the demonstrators, 39-year-old Washington lawyer Sharif Silmi, said as he stood in the crowd where many protesters held red, white, green and black Palestinian flags.
“We will stand against any politician that continues to fund weapons to Israel. We will oppose them, we will vote against them, we will fund their opponents, until we vote them out of office,” said Silmi.
Lama Alahmad, a resident of neighboring Virginia who is of Palestinian origin, said US public opinion is turning in favor of the Palestinian cause. “There is a huge change” going on in the US with regard to the Palestinian cause seeking a sovereign homeland, said Alahmad.
“We just want the world to recognize that we are human beings. We are not terrorists,” said Alahmad, a 43-year-old stay at home mother who grew up in the United Arab Emirates before moving to the US around 20 years ago.
Silmi insisted there was now broad opposition in the US to how Israel treats the Palestinians, which he likened to apartheid in South Africa.
“People have now woken up, and we’re resisting. Whether young Jews, young Muslims, young Blacks, young whites, there is a generational shift. And people are working across ethnic groups, racial groups, to work for change and freedom and liberation for Palestinian people,” Silmi said.Meanwhile, Israeli and Egyptian officials held talks in both countries on Sunday aimed at bolstering the Cairo-brokered ceasefire that ended the latest deadly flare-up of violence between the Jewish state and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in Jerusalem to discuss “strengthening cooperation” between their countries, Netanyahu’s office said.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi tasked Kamel and his delegation, who were also to visit the occupied Palestinian Territories, with hammering out a permanent ceasefire deal, senior Egyptian security officials told AFP.
On the same day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi made the first official visit by an Israeli top diplomat to neighbouring Egypt in 13 years, for talks with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry.
Ashkenazi tweeted on his arrival that they would “discuss establishing a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community”.