Last updated: 2 August, 2011

Israel may call up reserves for Palestinian UN demonstrations

Israel may have to call up military reservists to deal with mass demonstrations which the Palestinians are expected to stage next month as they seek UN membership, a senior minister said on Tuesday.

Shaul Mofaz, head of parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, made the remarks shortly after Palestinian officials in Ramallah said they were calling for mass protests in support of the UN membership bid next month.

“The possibility that Israel will be required in September to mobilise its reservists is very high,” Mofaz told military radio.

The Israeli military “is looking at various scenarios involving Palestinian demonstrations and is preparing for the possibility,” he added.

On Tuesday, senior Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo called for “millions” to take the streets to call for United Nations membership.

“This is the people’s battle,” he told AFP.

“There will be no success without popular consensus, millions going into the streets for a popular, peaceful movement to demand that a Palestinian state is the 194th state to join the United Nations.”

“We want popular campaigns and public activities and media campaigns coordinated in cities across the world and in the Palestinian territories to support the Palestinians in going to the United Nations in September,” he said.

Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian leadership planned to launch a public campaign in support of the UN bid starting on September 20 under the banner “Palestine 194.”

He insisted that the mobilisation would be entirely peaceful, with protesters “not throwing a stone or even a flower.”

In late July, jailed Palestinian leader Marwan Barghuti, in a statement issued from prison, called for mass mobilisation to support the Palestinian leadership as they seek UN membership for a state based on the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Winning the battle of next September, which is an important step in our struggle, requires the biggest peaceful popular protests here and in the diaspora, and in Arab and Muslim countries and international capitals,” he said.

“This means the mobilisation of all the energies of our people and the involvement of everyone in this battle.”

And Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas last week told members of the Palestine Liberation Organisation that he supported peaceful demonstrations in support of the UN bid.

“We want a popular mobilisation coordinated with all sides and that is what we have told our Arab brothers and the Palestinian movements,” he said.