Eyewitnesses reported that around 1000 protesters, mainly Palestinians, took to the streets in Ramallah to protest Bush’s visit to the area. The demonstration was organized by Palestinian political factions
Mohammad Al-Khatib, a member of the popular committee against the wall and settlements, was among those who were detained, in addition to a cameraman who works for the Ma’an News Agency.
Meanwhile, Palestinian security forces are on high alert in Bethlehem which will be the second Palestinian city that Bush will visit. Bush is scheduled to stay in Bethlehem for less than one hour. His visit will include a stop at the Church of the Nativity.
People are not allowed to drive on the road which Bush is supposed to use on his way to the Nativity Church. The high security alert has resulted in preventing most shop owners from going to their businesses, and schools have been closed as well.
On Wednesday President Bush started his visit to Israel where he met with the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Bush has emphasized his support for Israel as a Jewish State.
Thursday morning Bush arrived in Ramallah and was welcomed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and a number of Palestinian officials.
The two men held a news conference in Ramallah where Abbas valued Bush’s visit and described it as historic. Meanwhile, Bush stressed the need to establish an independent Palestinian State to live side by side with Israel.
“Do you want a democratic Palestinian State or the status quo?” Bush asked in the news conference. He, however, failed to mention anything regarding the border and the nature of this state.
He also failed to mention any of the core issues that Palestinians strive to solve, such as borders, refugees, Jerusalem, prisoners and the wall, but instead focused on fighting “terrorism.”