Palestinians rally in support of UN statehood bid

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Palestinians rally in support of UN statehood bid

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Seeking the cherished mantle of statehood so longed for by Yasser Arafat, Palestinians have been pouring into Ramallah to press home their claim.

They say 20 years of peace talks have led nowhere and now is the time for action.

But amid mass rallies of hope and expectation in the West Bank, tensions in the territory are also growing.

Some believe the statehood bid could trigger a third Palestinian intifada or uprising against Israel. Clashes on Wednesday between stone-throwing Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the divided city of Hebron will do nothing to prove the contrary.

The Palestinian goal of independence is vigorously

opposed by Jewish settlers who see the West Bank as their birthright, in the heart of biblical Israel.

“This is our country,” was the message of one group who marched from the Itamar settlement in the West Bank, many waving blue and white Israeli flags.

“This is our homeland and we are going to stay,” said Moshe Goldsmith, the mayor of Itamar’s 1,400 residents.

Time moves on in the Middle East but its deep-rooted divisions remain.