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Palestinians take to streets ahead of UN statehood bid

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Demonstrations supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state were taking place in cities across the West Bank Wednesday, ahead of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s expected request for United Nations recognition later this week.
In Ramallah, thousands of Palestinians had gathered by late morning in the city’s central Al Manara Square and were expected to move to the Mukata government complex later in the day.
In an effort to boost attendance at the rallies, learning institutions and government offices were closed throughout the West Bank and bus and other private transportation carriers announced free rides to those wishing to attend the street demonstrations.
Roads in Ramallah were closed to traffic and there was a large PA Police presence as the rallies grew.
Additional rallies were expected to take place in the Palestinian cities of Bethlehem, Nablus, Kalkilya, Jenin and Hebron.
Events were scheduled to continue throughout the week, culminating with live broadcasts in the streets of PA President Abbas’s speech to the United Nations on Friday, in which he is expected to demand statehood and UN membership for the Palestinians.
The week of protests was not expected to turn into clashes with IDF forces as the demonstrations were being held within Palestinian cities that are under full Palestinian security control.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch earlier this week said he is optimistic that the Palestinian leadership understands the need to prevent demonstrations from getting out of control.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post Tuesday, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said that PA security forces are prepared to contain demonstrations and prevent them from turning violent.
Nonetheless, he said, "the defense establishment is well prepared for all possible scenarios."

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