Palestinians celebrate Abbas' "historic" speech

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Palestinians celebrate Abbas' "historic" speech

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Thousands of Palestinians gathered in central Ramallah on Friday to mark what’s been described as a historic moment in their fight for statehood.

There were loud cheers, whistles and applause as President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the United Nations in New York, calling for the world body to recognise a sovereign Palestinian state.

Many residents were hopeful of success despite opposition from the US and Israel to the formal Palestinian application.

“President Abbas’ speech was balanced and sent a clear message to the UN and the whole world about the suffering and concerns of Palestinian people,” said one man who watched on a gigantic outdoor TV screen.

“First it cemented the PLO as the legitimate representative for Palestinian people everywhere,” said another Ramallah resident.

“Second, it emphasised those UN resolutions – especially 194 – which outlined the right of Palestinian refugees to return home,” he added.

As celebrations continued into the night, many Palestinians said the wave of pro-democracy protests across much of the Middle East had inspired them to remain hopeful.

“Most people here believe that even if the statehood bid doesn’t succeed, today really was a key moment in the history of the Palestinian struggle,” said Riad Muasses, Euronews correspondent in Ramallah.