by Nida Ibrahim
RAMALLAH, July 23 (Xinhua) -- High numbers of people in the West Bank are expected to respond to a call by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to protest for Gaza. Fury in the Palestinian street at Israel's attacks led the PNA to change a long-held stance of seeking calmness in the West Bank, analysts told Xinhua on Thursday.
In the past two weeks, PNA police thwarted angry Palestinians from marching towards an Israeli settlement near Ramallah to protest the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Citizens criticized the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for describing Hamas's rockets against Israel as "futile", in the first few days of the Israeli operation "Protective Edge", and saying it gives Israel a reason to attack the people in Gaza.
However, this has all changed on Tuesday when Abbas supported public protests, endorsed the Palestinian militant groups led by Hamas in Gaza and adopted their demands for a cease-fire. Hamas listed six demands to agree on a truce including lifting an Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Local observers say this is the result of the members of the PNA's ruling party of Fatah urging the Palestinian President to listen to the Palestinian street. "There's a growing sensation of Hamas pride in the West Bank compared to a disappointment from Abbas's failed approach of peace talks that didn't achieve tangible results," Political Science Professor in Al-Quds University Ahmed Rafiq Awad told Xinhua.
Fatah and other Palestinian parties aim to race for the support of the Palestinians, most of which are overtaken by Hamas's success in challenging the Jewish state and raising military fatalities to 32 Israeli soldiers. Palestinians applauded a breakthrough in the militant groups' performance in the war with Israel leading the party to put demands on the truce negotiations table, the analyst said.
People in the West Bank cities celebrated Hamas's claim of abducting an Israeli soldier and a 24-hour ban on U.S. flights to Israel following a missile landed near the only Israeli international airport of Ben Gurion. This has given Palestinians a reason to cheer for Hamas despite their grief at more than 764 Gazan deaths during the past 16 days.
Awad said the internal public pressure from the West Bank mainly drove the PNA to seek a different approach in hopes to keep its popularity alive, "the Palestinian people are important for Abbas. The PNA knows if it doesn't listen to the people, it will lose its reputation and legitimacy as representative body for the Palestinians," he explained.
Sameeh Hamouda, a political science professor in Birzeit University, said the PNA needs the support of its people to continue. He added that Israel's crimes against people in Gaza proved to Abbas that Israel designed the operation to fail the unity government formed a few weeks prior to the operation, and doesn't aim only to stop Hamas from firing rockets. "Abbas doesn't accept to give in to the Israeli will that wants to keep Palestinians fragmented," he told Xinhua.
Analysts say that such a unity between the West Bank and Gaza would empower Abbas in any future peace talks with Israel because it will show him as a leader of all the Palestinian people.